US National Anthem
The Star Spangled Banner

Francis Scott Key wrote our US National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, after being inspired by the sight of a huge American flag still waving at Ft. McHenry following a fierce night of battle between American and British forces.

The battle occurred during the War of 1812 and more specifically the Battle of Baltimore. Mr. Key, a lawyer and amateur poet, had boarded a British ship in hopes of freeing Dr. William Beanes. The British agreed to the release but would not let them go until after an attack the British had planned on Ft. McHenry.

Through the night Francis Scott Key watched the bombs light up the sky but could see little else of the fort and had great concern.

On the morning of September 14, 1814, with “dawn’s early light”, he saw the huge flag that U.S. soldiers had raised to celebrate their victory over the British troops. Relieved and moved by the sight of the flag, he wrote the poem, which was originally titled Defence of Fort McHenry. It was set to the tune of a British song “The Anacreontic Song".

It grew to be a popular patriotic song, played at July 4th celebrations, baseball games, military occasions, and flag raisings. Yet, it wasn’t until March 3, 1931 that President Herbert Hoover signed a law adopting it as the official American National Anthem.

US National Anthem
The Star Spangled Banner

O say! can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming!
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream;
’Tis the Star-Spangled Banner, O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave;
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

~ Francis Scott Key, 1814

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