Each branch of the military has an official song. The Army’s song is “The Army Goes Rolling Along,” which is played at the end of ceremonies. During the playing of the song, Soldiers are expected to stand and sing along. Others in attendance can also sing along.
The origins of the song can be traced to about 1907 during a grueling march across the Zambales Mountains in the Philippines. During the march, 1st Lt. Edmund L. Gruber, who would later become a brigadier general, heard a section chief call out to his Soldiers, “Come on! Keep them rolling!”
Later in 1908, Gruber and several other lieutenants gathered and decided they needed a song for the field artillery, which they titled “The Caisson Song.”
In an article published in Soldiers magazine in 1994, Robert Danford, one of the lieutenants who was at the gathering said, “A guitar was produced and tuned and, in what seemed to us a few moments, as if suddenly inspired, Snitz (Gruber) fingered the melody of the now-famous song.”
During World War I, the tune was given an update by composer and bandmaster John Philip Sousa and it was titled “The U.S. Field Artillery March.”
The song sold about 750,000 copies during the war.
In 1948, the Army began looking for an official song. First the Army held a contest but none of the winners achieved any popularity. Then, in 1952, the secretary of the Army even asked the music industry for help and still, after 800 submissions, nothing stuck.
Finally a Soldier music adviser in the adjutant general’s office was tasked with updating Gruber’s original song. The Soldier adviser, H.W. Arberg, used Gruber’s original melody with updated lyrics.
Then, Secretary of the Army, Wilber Marion Brucker, dedicated the song “The Army Goes Rolling Along” on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 1956.
“The Army Goes Rolling Along”
March along, sing our song, with the Army of the free.
Count the brave, count the true, who have fought to victory.
We’re the Army and proud of our name!
We’re the Army and proudly proclaim:
First to fight for the right,
And to build the Nation’s might,
And The Army Goes Rolling Along.
Proud of all we have done,
Fighting till the battle’s won,
And the Army Goes Rolling Along.
Then it’s hi! hi! hey!
The Army’s on its way.
Count off the cadence loud and strong;
For where’er we go,
You will always know
That The Army Goes Rolling Along.