Today, the song “Pomp and Circumstance” is a ubiquitous (if not slightly cliché) part of American graduation ceremonies. But long before the triumphant song blared across stadium grandstands and school gyms, it was a celebrated British military march, with lyrics that glorified the empire’s ever-expanding colonial empire.

Learn how “Pomp and Circumstance” first became famous in England, why it gained—and then lost—its lyrics, and how America put its own cultural spin on the song by watching Vox’s video below.

[h/t Vox]