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Home » This Day In History: The Star Spangled
September 14, 2018

This Day In History: The Star Spangled

A Brief History:

204 years ago, an epic song was inspired.

It was the War of 1812. America was fighting Britain over their interference in their international trade and affairs. On September 14, 1814, Britain had bombarded Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland throughout the night.  Francis Scott Key had been detained on a British ship and had watched the attack. Once the bombing stopped, he had to wait for first light to see who was the victor.  Key wrote “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” which became the “Star Spangled Banner,” after seeing the flag flying the next morning. The poem was written on the back of a letter he had in his pocket.

The inspired poem went from a handbill, to a newspaper article, and then set to a song. While most people regarded it as the national anthem, it wasn’t official until Woodrow Wilson made an executive order in 1916 and Congress confirmed it in March of 1931.  President Hoover signed it into a law on March 3, 1931.




    O 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, 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 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.


    O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

    Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.

    Blest with vict’ry 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!


Federal Law:

                In 1998, the most current regulations regarding how the anthem is honored were passed.  (viz., the United States Code 36 U.S.C. § 301) There has only been one amendment since that allows military veterans to salute out of uniform. 

–          It gives instructions for military and non-military service persons

–          All present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.






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