It's Memorial Day (officially) and the weekend when we take time to remember those who served and, especially, died so that we can enjoy our freedoms. It's easy to take these things for granted, but there are many ways that those memories are brought back to mind. One way this is done is with music (you knew I was going there). Many songs born of wartime are still sung in all types of venues: in churches, around the piano in the parlor, and around campfires (the Boy Scouts sing a version of "Tenting on the Old Campground," many not realizing that this song is from the Civil War and the "Campground" was the area where revival encampments took place, not where folks pitched tents for recreation).
Many popular songs about war focus on the opposition to war (check Songfacts for a list of titles and links), but songs that recognize the service of our military personnel date back to the prior Centuries. WWI and WWII both spawned songs of patriotism and hope. The series "Songs that got us through WWII" is a perfect example. Wikipedia has a great article on the role of music in WWII. Perhaps by the 1940s they'd discovered that previous wars benefited from having music as an element of conflict: WWI had its songs, too (many are still sung today). And all of these are a carry over from the 1861-1865 conflict where music was prolific on both sides. There are so many websites devoted to this topic that it is hard to select just a few to share here, but here's an attempt:
The Music of the American Civil War
The Civil War Music Site
Keith & Rusty McNeil's Civil War Music Site
The Civil War Music Store
Check this collection of videos of the songs of the War of the Rebellion
My own CD of Civil War songs is also available on-line.
There are also songs from the Revolutionary War. Check these:
Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution
Keith & Rusty McNeil's Colonial and Revolution Songs
And this collection of videos of the songs of the Revolutionary War
So, as you remember the men and women who served this country to obtain and preserve our freedom, take a moment to make music part of that recognition.