When the Band Played Dixie
Saturday, September 19, 2009
By Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.
The following is dedicated to all who stand up for the truth.
In 1859, Ohio Native Dan Emmett first performed “Dixie” New York City.
Two years later, on February 18, 1861, the band played Dixie at the Inauguration of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Montgomery, Alabama.
And on April 14, 1865, after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender, President Abraham Lincoln said: “Now Let the Band Play Dixie; it belongs nether to the South, nor to the North but to us all.”—New York Times Sunday Magazine, August 11, 1907.
For 150 years Northern and Southern Bands have played Dixie including the Milton High school “Dixie Eagles” Band who performed Dixie at the invitation and inauguration of the late Lester G. Maddox as Governor of Georgia in January 1967.
Dixie was played in 1976, during America’s Bi-Centennial birthday, at the Old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia and the late Johnny Cash sang Dixie at the Ford Theater in Washington, D.C. to then President Jimmy Carter and members of Congress.
Dixie has been performed by many musicians including; Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Lawrence Welk, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Shore, John Phillip Sousa, Osmond Brothers, Boxcar Willie, Jane Froman, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Mitch Miller, Johnny Hartman and The Rebelaires.
Roz Bowie, a Black Southern Lady, sang Dixie in 1986 at the reburial of a Confederate Soldier in Columbia, South Carolina.
So, what happened to “Dixie?”
Autumn is an exciting time for high school and college football. School bands will play to lift the soul but students, teachers, parents and fans will not hear "Dixie." Many of our institutions of learning have stopped playing Dixie even though the song is universally loved.
What happened to "Dixie" that was the official band music of the Confederate and Union Armies? What happened to this song that Northern and Southern children sang from their schools standard song book?
As a young boy, I remember going to the Great Southeastern Fair, in Atlanta and hearing "Dixie" coming from the Carousel. I also remember my teacher closing the window as the Headland High School Band rehearsed outdoors to "Dixie."
Today, men and women serve overseas to free the people of Iraq and Afghanistan….But school bands are no longer allowed to play "Dixie" and "Under God" is under attack in the pledge of allegiance.
Country music singer Lee Greenwood, who sang "God Bless the USA" and "Dixie" may have become politically incorrect. Yes, this Northern born American included "Dixie" on his "American Patriot" CD.
There was a time not long ago when high school bands played Dixie and public prayers asked for the safety of the football players and safety of the men and women of our United States Armed Forces.
Back when prayer started a school day, streets were safer and news was not filled with murder, rape and hatred.
Imagine for a moment that you are taken back to a high school football game of that time. The prayer had been prayed and the band begins to play Dixie. There is a huge cheer that builds as this tune is played. The people rise to cheer and sing this song that they love.
Dan Emmett’s headstone reads: "Daniel Decatur Emmett 1815 – 1904 whose song ‘Dixie Land’ inspired the courage and devotion of the Southern people and now thrills the hearts of a reunited nation."
God Bless America and Let the Band Play Dixie!