“The Stars and Stripes Forever” is a patriotic American march widely considered to be the magnum opus of composer John Philip Sousa. Sousa is considered America’s “March King”.
“In his autobiography, Marching Along, Sousa wrote that he composed the march on [Christmas Day], 1896. He was on an ocean liner on his way home from a vacation with his wife in Europe and had just learned of the recent death of David Blakely, the manager of the Sousa Band. He composed the march in his head and committed the notes to paper on arrival in the United States.”
Sousa wrote lyrics for the piece, but they are not as familiar as the music itself.
The song was first performed right outside of Philadelphia on May 14, 1897.
In 1987, the U.S. Congress passed an act naming the song the National March of the United States.
The song is usually played for the President of the United States after he gives a speech at a public forum, event, or ceremony, whereas “Hail to the Chief” is played when the President is introduced.