The troops paraded in front of Gloucester Cathedral as the bells rang out the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ across the historic city. The special rendition was to honour ten years of U.S. forces in Gloucester as part of NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC).
The tune was originally composed by Gloucester-born John Stafford Smith in the 1770s and later adopted as the U.S. national anthem.
Major Mike Woodhouse commanded the parade at College Green in front of Gloucester Cathedral. He explained: “Today we’re gathering to celebrate Independence Day, and to celebrate the connection that America and our national anthem has with Gloucester.
It shows the respect between our nations, that they’re able to do this to celebrate the ties the Americans and the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps have with the Gloucester community.
Ahead of July 4th this year, the American soldiers visited the Cathedral to hear the Director of Music Adrian Partington perform the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ on the same organ played by John Stafford Smith’s father when he was the Cathedral organist in the eighteenth century.
They also received a blessing from the Dean of Gloucester, The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, to acknowledge their 10-year presence in the City as part of the ARRC.
Dean Stephen said: “I think we’re the only cathedral that has the Stars and Stripes hanging alongside the Union flag, showing the links. And for us that’s important now, not just historically, because of the work of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps who have been here nearly ten years with us. It shows that keeping the peace is important to us all.”
Staff Sergeant Shamaire Carrizal, who serves in the Corps headquarters, added: "Any time I hear the national anthem immediately it brings tears, it’s such a beautiful song.
It was really nice to find out that the national anthem originally started out as a drinking song for the British.
U.S. Army troops are based in Gloucester as one of the 21 nations serving with NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps. The British-led Corps has been based in the City since 2010 after it moved from its former base in Germany exactly a decade ago.