"...It's harder to push them over the line than pass the Dardanelles..."
“Every time I have an alum who goes on a cruise or something through the Dardanelles, they’ll take a picture and tell me ‘I can cross it off my bucket list – I’ve been through the Dardanelles!’” Brad McDavid, UW Band Director to the Athletic, Oct 2018
It might seem strange that a Pacific Northwestern college fight song would mention a sea strait in modern day Turkey between the Aegean and Black Seas. At the time of "Bow Down to Washington's" creation, the Dardanelles would have been a recognizable metaphor for stout defenses as over 40,000 British, French, Australian and New Zealand soliders died attempting to seize the waterway from the Ottoman Empire over 10 months in 1915.
Marching band leader Brad McDavid commented "When I got [to UW] in 1994, I had to look it up to make sure I understood. Most [fight song] lyrics have to do with an interesting, popular point on college campuses or some lyrics surrounding a certain sporting event that is very popular on campus. But this is the only one that I know of so far that has to do with a geographic location outside of our own campus" (Interview with The Athletic, Oct 2018).
In the lead up to America's involvment in World War One, Lester Wilson transformed "Bow Down to Washington" into "Bow Down to Uncle Sam" and published the sheet music through Echo Publishing in 1917.
"Bow Down to Uncle Sam" (1917)
Bow down to Uncle Sam, / Bow down to Uncle Sam, / Powerful and peaceful we were neutral in the strife, / Until the deadly submarines endangered ev'ry life, / Rose the nation wide, / "Up to arms" they cried, / To protect us from the perils of destruction!
Heaven help the foes of Uncle Sam, / They're trembling at the feet of mighty Uncle Sam. / Our hearts are joined anew, / so boys it's up to you, / "Somewhere in France" we'll make 'em dance to Yankee Doodle Doo." / Raise "Old Glory" to the battle height, / We'll follow thro' the gates of hell and fight! fight! fight! / We're ev'ry man for Uncle Sam / united in The sacred cause of freedom.
World War One left an indeliable mark on not only the University of Washington, but the whole world. 58 London Plane Sycamores were planted on Armistice Day 1920 in memorial to the alumni and students lost in World War One (57 men and 1 woman).
You can read and see more of UW's involvement in the Great War by visiting the "Washington on the Western Front" exhibit https://content.lib.washington.edu/exhibits/WWI/index.html