|Credit: Mort Kunstler|
The Star Spangled Banner is now the national anthem of the USA. But do you know its story?
In 1812 the United States went to war with Great Britain. In 1814 the British took Washington DC, then moved north to Baltimore. They came upon Fort McHenry where 1,000 US soldiers guarded the harbor.
Meanwhile, the British were holding Dr William Beanes - an elderly American physician - as a prisoner on one of their ships. But the doctor had a young American lawyer friend who came to the ship to discuss his release. That was Francis Scott Key.
The British captain was willing to negotiate the doctor's release, but not until the next morning.
That night, aboard a British ship in the Baltimore Harbor, the words of The Star Spangled Banner were penned. Dr Beanes and Mr Key witnessed a perilous fight while they watched an American flag disappear into the night. They saw the red glare of rockets and the bursting of bombs. Finally, they awoke to the morning light, looking to see if the American flag was still flying high.
The 1st stanza of our national anthem asks their question.
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 rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
Oh! 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 mist 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 flows, half conceals, half 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. Oh! long may it wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed
|Credit: Michael Draper|
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
|Credit: National Park Service|
And the rocket's red glare
The bombs bursting in air
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there
Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free
|Credit: Library of Congress|
And the home of the brave