We have all heard young kids and celebrities mangle our national anthem, and if we admit it, there are some words we never get right! So here is a brief story behind the song, just in case you were in the mood for a little history lesson!!
During the War of 1812 (but actually in August, 1814) the British were ready to deliver a fatal blow to Baltimore with 4,000 reinforcements arriving in 50 English warships.
Maryland lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key was negotiating with the British for the return of an imprisoned friend. Key boarded a British flagship, where officers invited him to dine with a general and three admirals. They agreed to let their prisoner go free, but they detained Key on his American ship.
Key witnessed the Battle of Baltimore from the ship, waiting to see proof that the American flag that flew over Fort McHenry “was still there.” Between the rain and the awful smoke from firing, he could occasionally see the “rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air”.
Key and the 50,000 people of Baltimore endured a harrowing night still unsure of who won the battle. “At dawn’s early light,” that giant flag was raised and the city of Baltimore and Key could see “that star-spangled banner.”
Key jotted down what he experienced of that battle and set the words to an English drinking song! It became an instant hit – and in 1931, it became the official national anthem.
Here it is, all four stanzas!! Happy Fourth of July!
The Defense of Fort McHenry
by Francis Scott Key
20 September 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, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through 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 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, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on 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 wiped out their foul footstep’s 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 homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
God BlessAmerica! Enjoy Independence Day!!