This weekend marks 200 years since the penning of our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The original poem written by Francis Scott Key was inspired by the lone American flag flying over Fort McHenry after it was bombarded by the British in September 1814. A few weeks before reaching the target of Baltimore, the British invaded Washington, D.C. and burned the White House, Capitol Building, and Library of Congress. Despite their efforts, the British were unable to destroy Fort McHenry, so they gave up and retreated.
In the early morning hours of victory for the United States, the American flag waved triumphantly and the anthem was born. It was later set to music and was officially adopted as our national anthem when the House took up H.R. 14 in April of 1930. With more than five million signatures and support from 150 organizations, the House passed this expression of patriotism and on March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed it into law.
On this special anniversary, in accordance with the anniversary of Patriot Day yesterday, the Speaker said:
“Although we have been through dark days, we are blessed to be united as one nation under God with an anthem that reflects all we stand for and believe in. It is a good time to reflect on the anthem, the triumphant history behind it, and the words themselves, which tell the story of a people who never waver and never forget.”
Originally titled “The Defence of Fort McHenry,” the powerful words of “The Star Spangled Banner” embody our patriotism, perseverance, and the American spirit:
“O 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 through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s 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?”