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The Star Spangled Banner
1814

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The Star-Spangled Banner Searching for a doctor friend whom he felt had been taken captive by the British, Baltimore lawyer Francis Scott Key found himself aboard a British warship in Baltimore Harbor on September 13, 1814. Britain had been at war with the United States since 1812, and had just burned Washington the previous month.

As the British were preparing to shell Ft. McHenry, which was held by Americans and guarded the entrance to the harbor, Key was not allowed to leave the ship until the action was over. During the night of September 13-14, he watched the bombardment from the deck, and observed how the huge flag over the fort continued to flutter in the light of the bursting shells and rockets.

The next morning, noting that the tattered flag still flew over McHenry, he was inspired to make a few notes, which on September 20 emerged as the poem we know as the Star Spangled Banner.

The poem was an immediate success with the public and was shortly set to the music of an old tavern ballad, Anachreon In Heaven. It required another century to be named the official National Anthem.



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The Star Spangled Banner
1814
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, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! O 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 wiped out their foul footstep's 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 homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

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