Posted by: Emily Schmutz Garcia | November 9, 2011

The Star Spangled Banner

Creative Commons image by StuSeeger

Recently, in a cub scout den meeting, I learned the origins of our beloved national anthem. I thought I would share what I learned because it moved me.

“The Star Spangled Banner” was taken from the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry” by Francis Scott Key. The poem was written during the War of 1812. In 1814, Francis Scott Key and John Stuart Skinner set sail from Baltimore to negotiate the release of prisoners, one of which was the town’s doctor, Dr. William Beanes, with the British. Their mission was approved by President James Madison. Originally their cause looked grim, but after showing letters from British soldiers regarding their kind treatment from Dr. Beanes, the British agreed.

However, Keys and Skinner had heard details of the plans for the attack on Baltimore, and were held captive until after the attack. They watched their city get attacked from the water. They had no way of knowing who was winning. It wasn’t until the next morning, when they saw their flag flying still that they knew that the Americans had won. Knowing the background of what had happened really brings new meaning to these beloved words:

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!

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Responses

  1. Long may it wave in freedom – so dearly bought!


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