The Star-Spangled Banner

The Star-Spangled BannerWhenever I hear or sing The Star-Spangled Banner I am always moved with intense emotion, which at times brings me to the verge of tears. I love my country and the freedom and choices that it gives for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” My weekly Patriotic Post focuses on the National Anthem of the United States of America.


The Revolutionary War (1775-1781) was not the last war America fought against Great Britain. In the early 1800s, while England was at war with France, the English often seized American ships and sailors, imposed trade restrictions, and ignored the rights of the United States and its citizens as a free nation. This led to the War of 1812, often called the Second War for American Independence.

During this war, the British successfully raided Washington DC, in September 1814 and burned much of it to the ground. They then withdrew from Washington to launch a massive attack on Baltimore, “As the British were withdrawing, some [soldiers] broke into [Dr. William] Beanes’s home and demanded food and drink, but instead were arrested by Beanes and his friends. One of the arrested [soldiers] escaped and made it back to the British lines” (Molotsky, Flag, the Poet, and the Song, 71). Beanes’s action against the soldiers angered the British General Robert Ross who ordered troops to “arrest Beanes, who was taken aboard the flagship of the British force. …Beanes, who was sixty-five years old” was threatened to be hanged by his captors aboard the ship (Molotsky, Flag, the Poet, and the Song, 71). However, friends of Dr. Beanes intervened and sought help from Francis Scott Madison to negotiate the release of Dr. William Beanes from British General Robert Ross.

Our flag was still there!Key met with General Ross aboard his ship in Baltimore harbor and successfully negotiated the release of Dr. Beanes. However, the British detained both of them so they would not alert the American army of a planned attack on Fort McHenry. Key and Beanes were forced to watch the attack from the British ship during the night of September 13, 1814.

“In the darkness of the night, the two men had no way of knowing whether the enemy attack had been successful. But at the first light of dawn, they could see the American flag still waving from Fort McHenry. Their relief and gratitude were overwhelming” (Davidson, Our Latter-day Hymns, 328).

Inspired by his countrymen who were not defeated by the British attack, and proud of the American flag still waving, Key penned an original poem entitled “Defense of Fort McHenry.” Later the name was changed to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The poem was written as a tribute to the noble soldiers who fought valiantly in defense of Fort McHenry.

“In [Francis Scott Key’s] mind as he wrote these words was the tune of ‘Anacreon in Heaven,’ an English [Folk] song…The tune had been composed by English musician John Stafford Smith to be sung by members of a London club called the Anacreontic Society. (Anacreontic means ‘joyful’)” (Davidson, Our Latter-day Hymns, 328).

The poem-turned song became famous. With each major war after 1814, “The Star-Spangled Banner” became more and more a part of America’s heritage. It was played to inspire troops to battle in both the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. In the 1890s, the song was adopted by the army and navy. In 1916, it was played on official occasions as part of America’s entrance into World War I. In 1930, a petition containing more than five million signatures requested Congress to adopt “The Star-Spangled Banner” as America’s official national anthem. Finally, on March 3, 1931, Congress passed a law proclaiming “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem of the Untied States of America (see Molotsky, Flag, the Poet, and the Song, 148-51).

I love this rendition performed by the “Cactus Cuties”

What makes “The Star-Spangled Banner” a fitting national anthem? The lyrics praise God and His miraculous power that preserved the United States of America…As you sing or read the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” ponder the wonderful blessings that have come about as a result of the establishment of the United States of America.

Probably the most powerful performance by Whitney Houston

By Francis Scott Key 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, 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 through 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! Oh 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 washed 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!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power 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!

[Click here for the source and inspiration of this post.]

Remember, only YOU have the CHOICE to make it a GREAT day!

Evan Scoresby
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