Celebrate National Anthem Day!
“Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming…”
On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed into law “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the United States’ national anthem. In a concerted effort begun on April 15, 1929, by U.S. Rep. John Linthicum from Maryland, over 5 million signatures, countless letters of support, and twenty-five governors submitted their enthusiasm for the measure. Taking more than a year to make its way before the House Judiciary Committee, this emblematic song has an awe-inspiring history starting over a century prior to those seeking its patriotic expression.
The Key to Unlocking a Nation’s Patriotism
Written by Georgetown lawyer and dabbling poet Francis Scott Key on September 14, 1814, the lyrics originated as the poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry.” The verse was inspired when Key spotted the American flag still waving over the military stronghold the morning after the British Navy stormed the Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812. Key’s lyrical poem was later set to the popular melody, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” composed by John Stafford Smith. Not long after, the song’s title was changed to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” named for the flag that was raised over FortMcHenry, and the song became an immediate sensation
Song Stanzas, High Notes, and Passage Through Congress
Even though it’s four stanzas at full-length, most perform only the first stanza when singing the anthem for military ceremonies and public events. Given the considerable range of the melody, Congress hesitated to adopt it as the national anthem due to the difficulty for the general public to reach the highest notes; however, more often than not, the song is sung by trained singers. Furthermore, some officials questioned Representative Linthicum’s motives, whether his House Bill was to promote the nation’s patriotism or his own district, which included part of Baltimore. Nevertheless, its passage prevailed and “The Star-Spangled Banner” replaced “My Country ’Tis of Thee” as America’s national anthem.
Celebrate National Anthem Day by following the example set nearly two hundred years ago—hang your U. S. flag with pride and salute those who kept American patriotism alive and well. It’s a gesture that will inspire just as it did so long ago.