The Star Spangled Banner
On March 3, 1931, an Act of Congress made the Star Spangled Banner America's national anthem, but the history of that song goes back almost two centuries.
Following the American Revolution, Americans hoped to live in peace but France and England became engaged in a conflict that drew America back into war. The British captured American ships on the high seas and forced American sailors (around 10,000 of them) to fight for England. The United States declared war. Known as the War of 1812, it lasted until 1815.
During the war, in August 1814, England invaded Washington, D.C., setting fire to the Capitol, White House, and other government buildings. The British then marched to Baltimore, Maryland, and on September 13 began bombarding Fort McHenry.
At that time, attorney Francis Scott Key was aboard a British ship negotiating the release of a friend. Throughout the long night, he watched the attack on Fort McHenry, fearing its fall, but when morning arrived, the American flag was still flying -- the fort had survived the attack.
Inspired by these events, Francis Scott Key wrote down a few lines about the attack while still on board the ship and then wrote several more lines after reaching shore. Shortly thereafter they were published as a poem titled "Defence of Fort M'Henry." Set to music in November of that year, it was named "The Star Spangled Banner."
The song became popular during the Civil War and remained so well into the 20th century before finally being officially made America's national anthem. As we celebrate its anniversary, let's remember the many blessings God has bestowed on this nation, and the corresponding duties that we and our fellow-citizens have to preserve those blessings.
You can watch David Barton's short history of the Star Spangled Banner, or you can purchase a high-resolution copy to show to your church, school, or other group.