June 27, 2012 - Next week our country celebrates the declaration of our independence, July 4, 1776. It was that day our founding fathers told the world, we would no longer be second-class citizens, ruled by a monarchy.
Our natianal anthem, the Star Spangled Banner was composed by Francis Scott Key in September, 1814. Here are the words.
* * *
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!
* * *
My sources tell me, in 1814, about a week after Washington had been badly burned, British troops moved up to the primary port at Baltimore Harbor, Maryland. Frances Scott Key visited the British fleet in the Harbor on September 13 to secure the release of Dr. William Beanes who was captured during the seige of Washington.
The two were held captive on the ship as not to warn Americans the Royal Navy was going to attemp bombing Fort McHenry.
At dawn the next day, Key saw Old Glory still waving and had not been removed in defeat. The sight inspired him to write the poem, Defense of Fort McHenry.
The poem was set to music previously composed for a British drinking song, by a Mr. Smith. The result was the inspiring song now considered our national anthem. For the next 100 years it was the unofficial anthem of our country and became even more accepted as the national anthem during the 1917 World Series as it was sung in honor of the armed forces fighting in the Great War.
On March 3, 1931, Congress proclaimed it as the National Anthem, 116 years after it was first written.
This Best of Jim's Jottings first appeared Jun e27, 2007.
Jim Sherman, Sr. is president of Sherman Publications, Inc. He has penned "Jim's Jottings" since 1955.