Coasties sing 'Semper Paratus' around historic piano

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Though it may be a little off key, there’s something special about the rendition of “Semper Paratus” below.

The piano in the video was used by Capt. Francis Van Boskerck to compose the service’s official song in 1927. Coast Guardsmen from high endurance cutter Munro recently visited the piano in Unalaska, Alaska, wearing dress blues to honor the place where their service’s song was born, a Coast Guard blog post said.

Coast Guard photo of the piano used to compose “Semper Paratus,” the service’s official song.

Van Boskerck wrote the lyrics to “Semper Paratus” in 1922, but didn’t write a melody to accompany the song. Five years later, he became friends with the only family in the Aleutians to own a piano and wrote the melody that’s iconic of all Coasties today.

One Coast Guardsman on the Munro was studying for his advancement exams when he learned that the piano could be in Unalaska. Once they docked there, the Coasties asked around town to see if they could find the piano. The 1913 upright piano was in the home of Zoya Johnson, the director of the Museum of the Aleutians, who opened her home for the Coast Guardsmen to see the piano in person.

Johnson and the mayor of Unalaska, Shirley Marquardt, got a tour of the Munro to thank them for sharing such an important piece of Coast Guard history.

Capt. Mark Cawthorn, commanding officer of the cutter, said in the blog that in his 27-year career, “I have never felt so close to our history as I have right here.”

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