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The Star Spangled Banner Story
When we think of the United States, we immediately think of the Star Spangled Banner, the country’s national anthem. Who has not heard of the Star Spangled Banner? Even non-Americans are familiar with its tune. But how did the story of the Star Spangled Banner begin? How did it get to be the national anthem?
The Flag, the Poet and the Song: The Story of the Star-Spangled BannerThe Star Spangled Banner story began during the War of 1812 when America and England were at war. The British invaded and captured Washington and were planning to bombard Baltimore which was partly protected by Fort McHenry.
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In September 1814, two Americans, lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key and Colonel John Skinner were sent to negotiate the release of Dr. William Beanes who was captured during the British invasion of Washington. However, in the process of the negotiation, Key and Skinner had learned about the planned attack on Baltimore and Fort McHenry. Because of this, all three men were detained on a British ship.
The major attack happened on the dawn of September 13, 1814 with heavy artillery raining and producing red streaks across the sky straight into the night. The three men watched the battle from the deck of the ship. According to the Star Spangled Banner history, Key could see the huge American flag waving from the distance.
The bombardment continued way into the night when it suddenly stopped. Key had no idea if Baltimore had fallen or if the British forces had lost. Key could not see anything in the dark. As dawn came and the sun began to rise, Francis Scott Key saw the huge flag still waving proudly over Fort McHenry.
It was because of this event that Francis Scott Key penned what are now the Star Spangled Banner song lyrics. The poem was published and distributed all over the country. It was then set into music using a popular tune – To Anacreon in Heaven, which ironically was an English drinking song. As people started singing the song, it became known as the Star Spangled Banner. In March 3, 1931, an act of congress made the Star Spangled Banner the national anthem of the United States of America. And that is how the Star Spangled Banner came to be.