American Patriots

National Anthem Day: The Story Behind The Stars

The Star Spangled Banner is an old American ballad written in 1814. While every American is familiar with it’s melody and first verse, there are many things about the anthem that most of us don’t know. There is much more to its story than a simple scribble of thoughts, or the ramblings of a poet. It is embroidered with the sterling American liberty that we carry in our hearts, and the unshakeable love every true patriot has for his country. It is the result of labor, war, and a few interesting twists that pushed it into the American spotlight.


In honor of National Anthem Day, here are just a few aspects of the story behind the stars and stripes.


Francis Scott Key penned the song we all know and love while witnessing the battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812.

Key was present because he had been assigned a diplomatic mission to negotiate the return of a renowned American surgeon who had been captured by the British. Having previously believed that the victory of the Americans at Fort McHenry would be impossible, he was inspired when they overcame all odds and conquered the enemy.


Originally, the song was titled “The Defense of Fort McHenry.”

Key eventually changed the title to better represent spirit of American patriotism, and the flag the waves over the land of liberty. He wanted it to be a ballad engraved in every American heart, not a just a poem of bygone days.


The Star Spangled Banner wasn’t the national anthem until 1931.

In 1929, Robert Ripley published a cartoon that drew attention to the fact that America did not have a national anthem.

When Ripley received an overload of hate for his merrymaking of our lack of an anthem, he told  the people that they ought to write to their congressmen asking for an official national anthem. This resulted in a five-million-signature petition asking Congress for just that, and it worked. On March 3rd, the 31st President Of The United States, Herbert Hoover, signed a congressional act officially recognizing the Star Spangled Banner as America’s National Anthem. Previously, it had been used by the United States Navy in official ceremonies.


German was on of the first languages The Star Spangled Banner was translated into

During the civil war, The Star Spangled Banner was translated by the Union Army in hopes of recruiting German soldiers to fight on their side. Since that time, the song has been translated into Polish, Yiddish, Spanish, Italian, Latin, French, Native Hawaiian, Hebrew, and more.


The tune is actually British

Francis Scott Key intended his lyrics to be used in song form from the very beginning. When he published them, he announced that they were to be sung to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heav’n.” The ditty was an old English drinking song used by the Anacreontic Society, an 18th century mens social club, and the music was written around 1775 by a man named John Stafford Smith. The song focused on the ancient Greek poet Anacreon, a lover of wine.


Like much of American history, the story of The Star Spangled Banner is interwoven with irony, humor, and adventure. The fourth verse of our beautiful National Anthem embodies the spirit of American patriotism, reverence for the Creator of Freedom, and deep, unwavering love for the land of the free and the home of the brave.


O say can you see by the dawn’s early light

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight

O’er the ramparts we watched, 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?


On the shore, dimly seen through 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 in the stream:

‘Tis 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 washed 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 loved home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us 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!

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