August 4, 2011 is the 221st birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard! Founded in 1790 by Alexander Hamilton, it is the countrys oldest continuously-operating seagoing service. Men and women of the nation's smallest military service save more than 5,000 lives every year (not to mention billions of dollars in property).

In recognition of this event I am offering some recordings of The United States Coast Guard Band. These MP3 files are free for download, and they should play on most portable players and computers.

The first is a great Sousa march, from the Band's album "Live from Japan": Hail to the Spirit of Liberty, by John Philip Sousa

And from that same album, Hammersmith, by Gustav Holst.

And from their album "Americana", the fun (and challenging) Variations on America, by New England composer Charles Ives. This was originally written for organ, but works very well with the sonorities of an excellent concert band.