The patriotic American march The Stars and Stripes Forever is the official National March of the United States of America, as decreed by a 1987 act of the U.S. Congress. It is probably Sousa's most famous composition.
While on vacation in Europe with his wife, Sousa received word that his good friend and band manager, David Blakely, had died. Sousa quickly returned to the States aboard the S.S. Teutonic, and whilst aboard he began to form the music that was to become his most famous march. According to his Sousa's autobiography, Marching On , he composed the majority of the work on Christmas Day 1896: "I did not transfer a note of that music to paper while I was on the steamer, but when we reached shore, I set down the measures that my brain had been playing for me, and not a note of it has ever changed."
For twenty-five years Sousa's Band played the march at almost every concert it held.