Banners and Bonnets

During the enforced isolation of COVID, Facebook has been a welcome source of connection with friends far and near. Several have posted photos and reflections from personal history in the Army that prompt nostalgia, reminders to me of the rich heritage we have in the Army.

Some photos have been of soon-to-be-commissioned Cadets, poignant because of the cancellation of Commissioning events. These are events that reinforce our Army distinctives with Session Flags, decorations, uniforms, brass band music, etc.  These are celebrations of what is good and lasting about our Army culture.

The music of the Army is one of our ‘distinctives’ — the battle songs, songs of holiness, choruses of testimony, etc. I recently found myself singing a song that would be unfamiliar to many younger officers.  It was written by Meredith Willson (yes, it’s spelled correctly) who wrote “The Music Man”, one of my favorite musicals.  The words are these:

“Could you love the unloved, never reckoning the cost, giving them comfort and care?
Could you seek the unloved in the legion of the lost, sharing their grief and despair?
That’s the creed of an Army — a God-fearing Army!  With banners and bonnets they come.
Yes, to love the unloved in the spirit of the Lord, marching with trumpet and drum,
With banners and bonnets they come.”

Yes, banners and trumpets and drums are among our Army distinctives (no longer bonnets; RIP). But while Meredith Willson was celebrating those external distinctives, the real celebration was — and IS — for loving and seeking the unloved in the spirit of the Lord.  THAT’s the creed of our Army!  

I admit to worrying a bit about the loss of some of the unique trappings of the Army that help to remind us of who we are, not so much from a sense of nostalgia but because I want us to remain an Army that militantly, energetically, enthusiastically lives up to that creed.

And, in case you’re interested, here’s a video of “Banners and Bonnets”:

Again, I say to those on the front lines of ministry, “Thank you for reinforcing the creed of The Army to love the unloved.”

3 thoughts on “Banners and Bonnets”

  1. Remember us marching into the tabernacle at Camp Swoneky for the Cadet farewell to the music of Banners and Bonnets. Still touches me whenever I hear it.


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