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The Victory March for all

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, October 1, 2008

This week we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the greatest of all university fight songs, the Notre Dame Victory March. During the Stanford game on Saturday more than 800 band alumni will join this year’s marching band to commemorate the occasion.

Perhaps this is the right time to suggest a slight change in the lyrics of our treasured song. In recent decades a growing number of us in the Notre Dame family, men and women alike, have been singing the last line as: “While her loyal sons and daughters march on to victory.”

It has been more than 35 years since Father Hesburgh made Notre Dame coed. Our women athletes are marching on to victory in many sports. Our men and women are achieving greatness together in scholarship and service. It just doesn’t feel right to sing only of “loyal sons.”

The proposed change works well musically and rhythmically. Both versions have the same number of beats. The final verse of the original is “onward to victory.” In the new version it is “march on to victory.” Both are forceful and convey determination to succeed. In the new version the accented beat falls on the active verb “march” rather than the adverb “onward.”

I am not suggesting that we alter the official lyrics as originally written. Rather, we can simply adopt the more inclusive lyric as the preferred usage.

So this Saturday, as the fight song enters its second century, let’s sing it anew proudly, joyously acknowledging Notre Dame’s diversity, while her loyal sons and daughters march on to victory.

David Cortright

research fellow

Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies

Sept. 29