Lindbergh, the Eagle of the U.S.A.

Howard Johnson, Al Sherman, 1927

What was Lindbergh's accomplishment? First non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic. Where is "Over There"? France.

What were the reactions to Lindbergh's flight? How did he feel about the attention? Why did he receive so much attention? What technologies contributed to his popularity? Radio, movies, newspaper media attention.

Does it sound like this singer thinks anyone else will break Lindbergh's record? How commonplace did this person think transatlantic flight would become? Why would this be hard for people to imagine?

What character traits mentioned in the song did people admire in Lindbergh? Fearless, self-sufficient, persistent, faithful to mom. Did people think Lindbergh was a hero? He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. What characteristics make a hero? Do you think he was a hero?

What other aviation heroes can you think of? Orville and Wilbur Wright, Santos Dumont, Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart, Chuck Yeager, Yuri Gargarin, Alan Shepherd, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, John McCain, Sally Ride, Sully Sullenberger, Elon Musk. Have they approached Lindbergh’s popularity? Why or why not? Some did not become celebrities like Lindbergh because they represented incremental achievements rather than major breakthroughs. Some represent team efforts, not solo achievements like Lindbergh’s.

Lindbergh was a hero who became a celebrity. What is the difference between being a hero and being a celebrity? Give examples of celebrities who are not heroes. Give examples of a hero who is not a celebrity. Of today's heroes (not just celebrities) whom do you admire most? Why?


"Lindbergh, the Eagle of the U.S.A." performed by Vernon Dalhart on Come Josephine in My Flying Machine, New York: New World Records [NW 233], © 1977. The recording is available online on Archive.org, through iTunes, and on YouTube.

Vernon Dalhart (originally named Marion Try Slaughter) (1883–1948) recorded over 1600 songs from 1916 to 1939. He was the most popular recording artist in America during the early years of sound recordings. He began his career as a classical singer, and even performed in opera. Soon the record companies recognized how good he was at singing many different styles. They convinced him that he could earn more money recording popular tunes. Some say Dalhart became one of Thomas A. Edison's most productive—and favorite—artists because he was capable of pronouncing the words clearly on the early hard-to-hear recordings! Shortly after Lindbergh's 1927 transatlantic flight, Dalhart recorded this song and many others about the flying hero.

Rights have not been secured to publish this song. Lyrics may be viewed online here:

http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/folk-song-lyrics/Lindberg_the_Eagle_of_the_USA.htm

Sensations of 1945 poster
Poster advertising Sensations of 1945.

Howard E. Johnson (1888–1941) was born in Connecticut but moved to Boston after high school to write songs. He initially signed with Leo Feist, Inc., a prominent Tin Pan Alley publishing firm, where he provided lyrics for many popular songs. He chronicled his experiences after moving to New York City with "There's a Broken Heart for Every Light on Broadway" and "What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?" After serving in the Navy during World War I, he wrote an anti-war song, "If They Feel Like a War, Keep it Over There," adapting Cohan's famous song "Over There." Like many Tin Pan Alley composers, after "talking pictures" were invented Johnson moved to Hollywood where he worked for the MGM movie studios. Among other films, he wrote the music for Sensations, a 1944 film starring W. C. Fields and Sophie Tucker. Al Sherman collaborated with Johnson on a few other songs, besides "Lindbergh, the Eagle of the U.S.A."

The music in this song references the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise," and the United States' anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," (VAT Unit 3) referring to the two coasts that Lindbergh would be connecting during his famous transatlantic flight. The airplane sounds establish the appropriate atmosphere for this song, while the bugle calls in the accompaniment proclaim Lindbergh as a patriotic figure.

Design a medal honoring your hero.

Design a postage stamp or write a proclamation commemorating your hero and his or her accomplishment.

Compare this song to other songs honoring heroes:

"Death of General Wolfe" (Unit 1)

"John Henry" (Unit 5)