What do the military, first responders, music, and coffee all have in common? If you answered a “human element”, you’d be correct! If you answered anything else, you’re likely correct, too. Like any spoken words, whether familiar or foreign, music is considered our universal language. And, regardless whether a tune has words, the power of music cannot be denied.
Just this past month, author Tim Kirkpatrick eloquently described in one sentence, the tie between the United States military and music in “Here’s the History of Reveille. He wrote, “[T]he motivation behind the “Reveille” tune isn’t to just wake us up, but instead is to remind us of those who have served in remembrance”.
I recall fondly my own reveille during summers at camp in the Texas Hill Country. Reveille began for all campers when the legendary Hondo Crouch graced us with his cheerful voice over the PA system. From sun up until sundown, music played with tunes from Jerry Jeff Walker, The Doobie Brothers, Seals & Crofts and others! Occasionally, Jerry Jeff Walker would play live at the camp!
Hondo, who served in the Air Corps during World War II, would later purchase the tiny town made popular by famed artists Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, “Luckenbach, Texas”, (Population 3). He was also the town’s self-proclaimed mayor, post master general and owner of the only establishment in town, The General Store. Hondo himself was also a poet and songwriter. Now, cue the music!!!!
Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas
Willie and Waylon and the boys
This successful life we’re livin’s got us feudin’
Like the Hatfield and McCoys
Between Hank Williams’ pain songs
And Jerry Jeff’s train songs and “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain”
Out in Luckenbach, Texas, there ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain
Another example of a particular group like the military, whose selfless sacrifices and courage shine whenever called to duty are First Responders Known to some as ‘Guardian Angels’, they are often present whenever mankind falls victim to floods, fires, accidents, and/or medical emergencies of all kinds. These compassionate human beings fly directly into the face of danger. They put their own lives on the frontlines for their fellow man, serving at all levels of government and at private companies. First responders require rigorous specialized and continual training, and oftentimes must coordinate efforts between multiple agencies.
Various types of frontline workers include: law enforcement officers, paramedics, firefighters, constables, marshals, state troopers, sheriffs, deputies, and medical and emergency officials. Also, included are Public Works Officials, Hazardous Waste Materials Staff, Emergency Response Coordinators and Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) personnel. By law, hospital emergency departments and assisted living centers are required to designate specific personnel to be trained for safety, disaster and critical situations, thus classifying them as first responders.
Similar to the military, frontline responders work around the clock, 24/7. These people and those they serve, other humans, also have their music connection. There are countless stories how music plays a role through its healing power. For Americans, we recall the most memorable tragedy of recent time that took place in New York City on 9/11. Shortly afterwards, many musicians and entertainers came together, uniting the country, through musical tributes. The healing power of music has been utilized for centuries by many, and persists within the medical and healthcare industries.
Now, how does coffee fit into all of this? Historically, here’s how:
Act I: The new-found interest in coffee in pre-American truly began that faithful midnight, December 16, 1773, when rallying colonists dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. In protest of Great Britain’s “taxation without representation”, a devotion to coffee emerged. Since the Boston Tea Party, the taste for coffee would grow ever-stronger. Thus, many local coffee houses were centers for formidable daily political discussions and debates subsequent to the American Revolution.
Act II: During times of combat, coffee remained a favored staple for American troops. Historians wrote that coffee likely even determined the outcome of the Civil War. The increase in consuming coffee was due to daily rationing of soldiers’ rum and brandy by then-President Andrew Jackson.
Act III: The most famous of nicknames is compliments of the United States military -President Woodrow Wilson’s U.S. Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels. During World War I, Daniels banned alcohol on all naval ships. Unhappy that liquor was no longer allowed onboard, sailors coined the term, Cup O’ Joe, after Navy Secretary Daniels, aka “Joe”, since coffee became the preferred drink for the crew.
Act IV: Coffee likely assisted the Allied Forces in winning World War II. U.S. troops stationed abroad crafted one of the most common coffees ordered today. While abroad in Europe, American soldiers were unaccustomed to strong espresso so diluted their shots with water, creating Caffe Americano.
The Grand Finale’: The legendary coffee bean is widely believed to have been discovered in ancient forests on an Ethiopian plateau in East Africa in the 9th century. Today, coffee is second only to water as the most consumable liquid worldwide.
Coffee is much like music! Just as music infiltrates us nearly everywhere we go, so does “Joe”! Coffee, for some, is like music to the eyes, ears, noses and tastes to those whom it permeates, as coffee percolates universally across borders and oceans. Upon visiting coffee shops and establishments serving coffee, one may encounter piped-in music or local artists playing live tunes. Music is like the sweetener that complements each and every cup.
Most importantly, whether for soldiers training at a base or stationed overseas, first-responders awaiting their next call-to-duty, or simply for world citizens – as humans, we are moved by music yet it is coffee which reminds us all of the safest place we know – home.
For there is no better place that unites us all!
- Tim Kirkpatrick, “Here’s the History of Reveille”, https://www.wearethemighty.com/articles/history-reveille).
- Top 10 American Patriotic Songs, GreatAmericanCountry.com
- Ten Best Military songs, https://usmhaf.org/blog/top-10-best-songs-for-military/
- Ashley Webb, “Coffee and the Civil War”, The American Battlefield Trust, https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/coffee-and-civil-war
- Luckenbach: https://texashillcountry.com/thelegendofluckenbach/
- History of Coffee: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_coffee