The Anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner”
I enjoy producing the Flashback segment daily on the Good Morning Rodeo during the 7 o'clock hour, just after the Happy Birthday shoutouts.
It's fun to look back at country music's history and pay homage to the genre's giants. Additionally, there are often reminders of interesting and monumental events in the world and national history, covering everything from inventions and world records to battlefield victories.
As it turns out, today is the anniversary of the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Did you know the lyrics were initially drafted as a poem on September 14, 1814, by a 35-year-old lawyer and poet named Frances Scott Key?
Oh! Say can you see...
It was during the War of 1812 and the bombing of Fort McHenry by British ships. The Royal Navy had made its way to Baltimore Harbor and bombed throughout the night. Around 1,500 to 1,800 bomb shells and over 700 rockets were fired at the fort.
However, the U.S. forces held firm with the British ships. The British efforts proved ineffective. However, throughout the night, victory was uncertain until daybreak, when a small flag was lowered, and the large garrison flag (30 by 42 feet) was raised over the fort. The scene inspired Key to draft his poem, which would later be set to music, becoming the National Anthem.
Today, Fort McHenry is a National Monument overseen by the National Park Service. It is well worth a visit should you find yourself in the Baltimore vicinity seeking a connection to American history.
The flag later became known as the treasured Star-Spangled Banner and is on display in the National Museum of American History today.
In 1899, the U.S. Navy officially adopted "The Star-Spangled Banner." By 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that the song be played at military events and other occasions. It was played during Game One of the World Series two years later. It's the first time the anthem was played at a baseball game. Leading to a long American tradition of playing it at everything from youth to professional sporting events.
Although the National Anthem became part of significant and controversial protest movements in recent years, and all Americans are free to peacefully express their grievances, the original context combined with the lyrics continues to hit close to home for many people.
Protests aside, here are several memorable "The Star-Spangled Banner" renditions to enjoy.
Whitney Houston - performed at the 1991 Super Bowl, many consider Houston's one of the best renditions ever.
Coldstream Guards - Queen Elizabeth request the Coldstream Guards play the U.S. anthem after the 9/11 attacks.
Jimmy Hendrix - Often imitated, but never duplicated, Hendrix closed the 1969 Woodstock music festival with his iconic electrical guitar version.
Meatloaf - Talented singer and proud American, Meatloaf delivered a compelling version at the MLB All-Star Game.
Watch the video below for the complete patriotic version of Francis Scott Key's inspiration behind the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."