us flag waving against a blue sky

It’s time to celebrate the 239th birthday of our nation. As we all know, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was created by our founding fathers. While there are many things we honor at this time of year, we wanted to share some little known facts about our national anthem. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is an iconic embodiment of American unity, courage and tenacity in the face of opposition. Ironically, the tune was derived from a British drinking song, below are a few more interesting, if not obscure, facts about our anthem.

Francis Scott Key, writer of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, was a successful attorney. He owned his own practice and was regarded as one of the best in Maryland. He was later appointed as District Attorney of the District of Columbia (D.C.) by President Andrew Jackson.

The song was written based on what Key saw take place on September 13, 1814 at Ft. McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore. The Fort was under attack by British forces for an entire 25 hours, but did not surrender.

Key was in viewing distance of the battle on a British warship because he was appealing for the release of a friend Dr. William Beanes who was held captive.

Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” to fit the rhythm of the British drinking song “To Anacreon in Heaven”.

The original version which Key wrote has four verses and what we are familiar with is only the first of the four. See below for the full lyrics.

Key named the song “The Defence of Ft. McHenry” and it was published accordingly in newspapers across the nation. The name “The Star-Spangled Banner” was not coined until about two months later when a music store started selling the sheet music under that title.

For more than 100 years, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was not officially our national anthem. The idea of declaring it as our official anthem was proposed by President Wilson in 1916, and in 1931, President Hoover signed a congressional act declaring it as such.

It is believed that “The Star-Spangled Banner” was first performed at a sporting event during the 1918 Baseball World Series. Initially the band played the anthem during the game but later in the series they begun to perform at the start of the game.

Whitney Houston’s recording of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, which she performed at Super Bowl XXV, peaked at #20 in Billboard’s weekly Hot 100 in 1991, and then peaked at #6 after its second release in 2001, following the attacks on September 11th.

The National Anthem is played before all MLS, NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL games, which means that in these sports alone, the National Anthem is performed over 5,000 times per year!

All Verses to “The Star-Spangled Banner” 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, 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!”