Beginning February 1, 2019, the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg will present Songs of the Patriot, an exhibition that explores the outlook of a wartime nation as expressed through the music and graphics of popular World War II sheet music from 1940 to 1945.

Wartime songs captured snapshots of various American attitudes during World War II. Themes ranged from pacifism and neutrality at the beginning of the war to aggression towards the Axis powers and hope of loved ones returning home safely. Sheet music covers were the perfect medium for visually interpreting songs that, at times, could be serious, sentimental, or even comical. Whether driven by personal feelings or meeting the demand of the huge music-buying public, these composers and artists were part of a thriving business in which great sums of money were being earned by the music publishing industry. 

Songs of the Patriot takes viewers back to a time when publishers, songwriters, and cover artists expressed this wide array of sentiments—from anti-war statements to rallying support for troops overseas—through the medium of sheet music. The exhibition also examines the booming sheet music industry, printing and chromolithography, and the significance of piano playing as a form of home entertainment.

Songs of the Patriot will be on display in the George H. W. Bush Gallery through July 28, 2019. This exhibition is made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas.

Cover of "Marching Along with Our Song of Victory" sheet music, 1942.