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  • Friday, March 02, 2018

    I'm not usually a history buff...but March 3rd is the day the Star Spangled Banner was adopted as our National Anthem. Here's some history on it.

    On National Anthem Day commemorates the day America adopted “The Star Spangled Banner“ as our National Anthem.

    While an attorney, Francis Scott Key was serving in the Georgetown Light Field Artillery during the War of 1812. In 1814 he was called on as a lawyer to release Dr. William Beane who was a prisoner on the British naval ship, Tonnant. Early in September he traveled to Baltimore in the company of Colonel John Skinner to begin negotiations.

    Beane was released but since the British navy had begun attacking Baltimore, they all had to wait at sea to return to Georgetown.

    Fort McHenry is built on a peninsula of the Patapsco River, and the city of Baltimore is just across the Northwest Branch. In 1814, the population of Baltimore was roughly 50,000 people, hardly the metropolis it is today. The country itself was still young, and often families of soldiers lived nearby and provided support to their soldiers.

    The British navy abandoned Baltimore and turned their full attention on Fort McHenry on September 13. As the 190-pound shells began to shake the fort, mother nature brought a storm of her own. Thunder and rain pelted the shore along with the bombs and shells. Throughout the night, parents, wives and children in their homes could hear and feel the bomb blasts across the way. There were reports of the explosions being felt as far away as Philadelphia. It was a long night of fear, worry and providing comfort to one another.

    At sea, Key had a similar night. Being a religious man, one who believed the war could have been avoided, he watched the bombs bursting in air over the water and steadily pummeling Fort McHenry. It was surely a sight to behold.


    For 25 hours the star-shaped fort manned by approximately 1,000 American soldiers endured over 1,500 cannon shots. The Fort answered with their own with almost no effect.


    In the early morning of September 14th, after Major George Armistead's armed troops stopped the British landing party in a blaze of gunfire, he ordered the oversized American flag which had been made a few months before by Mary Perckersgill and her daughter, raised in all its glory over Fort McHenry, replacing the storm flag which had been raised during battle.

    As Key waited at sea for dawn to break and smoke to clear, imagine the inspiring sight in the silence of the morning to see his country's flag fully unfurled against the breaking of the day and the fort standing firm. 

    Key was so moved by the experience he immediately began penning the lyrics to a song which were later published by his brother-in-law as a poem titled “Defence of Fort M'Henry”.

    Nearly 117 years passed after Key penned “Defense of Fort Mc'Henry” before it became the national anthem of the United States of America.  “Hail Columbia” and “My Country and 'Tis of Thee” held honorary places as patriotic songs, but the United States didn't have an officially declared anthem until a congressional resolution, signed by President Herbert Hoover, when “The Star Spangled Banner” officially became the national anthem of the United States of America on March 3rd, 1931.