Composed by Francis Scott Key, In Defense of Fort McHenry in
September 1814. Congress proclaimed it the U.S. National Anthem in 1931
-- history follows.
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' 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 thro' 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 on the stream:
'T is 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 wash'd 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.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us as 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!

History: In 1814, about a week after the city of Washington had been badly
burned, British troops moved up to the primary port at Baltimore Harbor
in Maryland. Frances Scott Key visited the British fleet in the Harbor on
September 13th to secure the release of Dr. William Beanes who had
been captured during the Washington raid. The two were detained on the
ship so as not to warn the Americans while the Royal Navy attempted to
bombard Fort McHenry. At dawn on the 14th, Key noted that the huge
American flag, which now hangs in the Smithsonian's American History
Museum, was still waving and had not been removed in defeat. The sight
inspired him to write a poem entitled Defense of Fort McHenry; later the
poem was set to music that had been previously composed for another
song by a Mr. Smith. The end result was the inspiring song now
considered the national anthem of the United States of America. It was
accepted as such by public demand for the next century or so, but
became even more accepted as the national anthem during the World
Series of Baseball in 1917 when it was sung in honor of the brave armed
forces fighting in the Great War. The World Series performance moved
everyone in attendance, and after that it was repeated for every game.
Finally, on March 3, 1931, the American Congress proclaimed it as the
national anthem, 116 years after it was first written.
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