Worn with the blue Army Service Uniform when participating in ceremonies (or as directed), the ceremonial belt for officers features their branch color or colors, in contrast with the enlisted version which comes in a single shade of dark blue. In ceremonies involving troops under arms, officers will attach a scabbard chain to this belt to accommodate the wearing of sabers, while NCOs will use it to attach a scabbard for swords (see Field Manual 3-21.5, Drills and Ceremonies).

The rich heritage of the Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery branches is embodied not only in the scarlet of the ceremonial belt—the color has been associated with artillery and artillerists for over 230 years—but also in a musical composition that they’ll often hear played while wearing it: “The Army Goes Rolling Along,” the official song of the United States Army.

Although it is the oldest of the branches of the United States Armed Forces, the Army was the last to have an official song. After its original selection of a song called “The Army’s Always There” submitted by professional songwriter Sam Stept received a less than enthusiastic reception, the decision was made to employ a tune known by every soldier and more than a few civilians: “The U.S. Field Artillery March,” originally called “The Caisson Song” or “The Caissons Go Rolling Along.” A lively number originally written by First Lieutenant Edmund Gruber in 1908, the music was reworked by march-master John Phillip Sousa in 1917, but the lyrics—and ode to the men serving in the Field Artillery—remained unchanged.

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But the Army realized it wouldn’t be appropriate for its official song to feature lyrics lauding a single branch of the service, and replaced the words with lyrics written by a member of the Adjutant General’s staff. The song was dedicated by Secretary of the Army Wilber Brucker (himself a former Infantryman) on November 11, 1956; its selection was officially announced a month later in AR 220-90, Army Bands.

The revised lyrics are a heartfelt tribute to the dedication, commitment, and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in the Army. Even so, for many veterans and civilians alike, it’s nearly impossible to hear the tune without feeling the urge to end the verses and chorus with the words “Those caissons go rolling along….”

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