Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thank You, Francis Scott Key...!

A song that we all can recognize, we all can remember, and we can all feel!

That's what the National Anthem is to me. I'll admit to not knowing much of the history of the song, or the poem it was born of! The poem itself was written during the attack on Fort McHenry by Francis Scott Key, who was a witness to the battle.

I wanted to share this bit of history with you, in light of all that's going on this week!

Sept 13, 1814:

Key pens Star-Spangled Banner

On this day in 1814, Francis Scott Key pens a poem which is later set to music and in 1931 becomes America's national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." The poem, originally titled "The Defence of Fort McHenry," was written after Key witnessed the Maryland fort being bombarded by the British during the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the sight of a lone U.S. flag still flying over Fort McHenry at daybreak, as reflected in the now-famous words of the "Star-Spangled Banner": "And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there."

Francis Scott Key was born on August 1, 1779, at Terra Rubra, his family's estate in Frederick County (now Carroll County), Maryland. He became a successful lawyer in Maryland and Washington, D.C., and was later appointed U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.

On June 18, 1812, America declared war on Great Britain after a series of trade disagreements. In August 1814, British troops invaded Washington, D.C., and burned the White House, Capitol Building and Library of Congress. Their next target was Baltimore.

After one of Key's friends, Dr. William Beanes, was taken prisoner by the British, Key went to Baltimore, located the ship where Beanes was being held and negotiated his release. However, Key and Beanes weren't allowed to leave until after the British bombardment of Fort McHenry. Key watched the bombing campaign unfold from aboard a ship located about eight miles away. After a day, the British were unable to destroy the fort and gave up. Key was relieved to see the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry and quickly penned a few lines in tribute to what he had witnessed.

The poem was printed in newspapers and eventually set to the music of a popular English drinking tune called "To Anacreon in Heaven" by composer John Stafford Smith. People began referring to the song as "The Star-Spangled Banner" and in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson announced that it should be played at all official events. It was adopted as the national anthem on March 3, 1931.

Francis Scott Key died of pleurisy on January 11, 1843. Today, the flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1914 is housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

I'd be willing to bet that Mister Key had no idea how important to us all his poem would become. One strange thing, though, is the fact that the poem was set the music of a popular English drinking song! I certainly didn't know that!

Now, my friends, how about some fresh coffee on the patio this morning? Still no rain in the forecast, but the mornings are starting to cool off!


Judy said...

And did you know that "My Country,'Tis of Thee" or "America" is the same tune as "God Save The Queen"?

Ben in Texas said...

Well, I learned sumthing, or maybe I learned it in School and just forgot it. I didn't realize Mister Key was on board a British Ship at the time.
Thanks for setting me straight!

Anonymous said...

You know (and I'm really embarassed to admit this), I also just discovered I've forgotten a few phrases of this song as well. A few well publicized lapses of singers in recent months got me to singing it out loud (in my car where no one would get hurt, lol) when I discovered I forgot part of it as well. Dang - am I that old?

I don't watch TV sports, so listening to the national anthemn is not or has not been a constant theme. Still, I'm embarassed to admit it - thats why I'm anon, I guess.

Back to school . . . :^)

Momlady said...

While the Star-Spangled Banner may represent the tenaciousness of our country (which I wonder about these days), I prefer My Country 'tis of Thee. That said, isn't it curious that all the songs are set to English music?

Sixbears said...

Much of what we think of today as church music was originally set to drinking songs.

HermitJim said...

Hey Judy...
I've noticed that a couple of times and don't know why I didn't mention it!

Funny how some things like that don't seem to be all that strange!

Hey, thanks for coming over today!

Hey Ben...
Like I said, I either didn't know or had forgotten a lot of the history behind the poem that became the song!

Thank goodness for the history channel!

Thanks, buddy, for coming by today!

Hey Anon 7:23...
I'm sure you aren't the only one! I will own up to not remembering a lot of the old songs I should remember!

I don't know if it's an age thing or just that I don't sing them enough to keep them fresh in my mind!

At least I reckon we are in good company!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Momlady...
It is strange when you stop and think about it! Maybe just because the English songs were so well known by us at the time!

Maybe I should do a little more research into some of the other songs from the time!

Guess this is one of the reasons I love to read! Always more to learn!

Thanks, my friend, for the visit today!

Hey Sixbears...
Funny how that works out, isn't it?

That's one of those little known facts that isn't brought up much! I wonder why?

You have a great day, and thanks for dropping in today!

russell1200 said...

The War of 1812 is sometimes referred to as the war the Napolean tricked us into fighting.

The British had changed places with the French (visa vi the French and Indian War) as the big backer and supporter of the Indian nations. The hostility this generated along with a desire to expand into (what was then) the Northwest were other major causes of the war.

The last battle of the war (Battle of New Orleans) was fought (unknowingly) after a peace treaty had already been signed. At the battle were the Duke of Wellingtons veteran troops from the (Spanish) Penninsula campaign, but fortunately not the Duke of Wellington.

When the statement is made that the U.S. has never lost a war, it is one (along with Vietnam) offered as a counter example. Given that much of the Northwest Indian menace was nullified, and we somewhere in the mix were able to buy the Louisana purchase from Napolean, we should be so lucky to loose more wars like that.

HermitJim said...

Hey Russell...
That's one thing about history...it is never as cut and dried as we tend to think!

Fascinating stuff, to be sure!

Thanks for the visit today!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hi HermitJim, thanks for the history lesson today. Learned things I didn't know before - always a good thing. Glad the mornings are cooler now, but about that rain.