The Story of the Star-Spangled Banner - OUTSIDE THE BOX
The Story of the Star-Spangled Banner The story of The Star Spangled Banner is a story
of heroism and courage that began late in the summer of the year 1814. For two years, the United States had been fighting England in the War of 1812 and things were going
badly for the Americans. By the summer of 1814, British troops had set fire to the city of Washington, and nearby Baltimore was under attack.
During the fighting, the British had taken many Americans as prisoners. Among these was a Maryland physician named Dr. William Beanes.
Dr. Beanes was being held on board one of the British ships and the Doctors friends on shore asked the United States government for help in getting him released.
Colonel John S. Skinner, an expert in negotiating the exchange of prisoners of war, was given the job of asking for the doctors release. He was accompanied on this mission by a close personal friend of Dr. Beanes, a young Washington lawyer named Francis Scott Key.
The two Americans were received politely by the British officers on board the ship as they presented the officers with letters from British prisoners who had received kind treatment at the hands of Dr. Beanes.
Because of these letters, the British agreed to release their prisoner but on the condition that they must not leave the ship until after the British plan for an attack on Baltimores Fort McHenry.
In the early morning hours of September 13, 1814, the heavy bombing began and it continued all through the day. Inside Fort McHenry, Colonel George Armistead
ordered that the large American flag he had recently ordered be flown to show that they would not give up. Francis Scott Key watched anxiously as twilight fell. At times he could not even see the Fort but he hoped that
its flag still flew. All through the night, the bombing continued and through the darkness occasionally by the light of an exploding rocket shell, Key was able to see the
American flag still flying proudly over the fort. As dawn broke, a light wind sprang up and for a moment as the smoke of the battle lifted, the prisoners on the flag-of-truce boat could see that Fort McHenry
had not surrenderedthe flag still flew! Seizing an old letter from his pocket, Francis Scott Key began to write, making notes for a poem that was to become immortal.
When the British realized that there was not an easy victory in sight, a cease fire was ordered and Francis Scott Key, Colonel Skinner and Dr. Beane were set free.
Later that night in a Baltimore hotel room, Key completed the writing of his poem and on September 20, 1814 it was published in a Baltimore newspaper under the title, The Defense of Fort McHenry.
A few days later, the poem was set to music and sung before a Baltimore audience. They used an old English tune called To Anachreon in Heaven. Over the years, under the title The Star Spangled
Banner it became even more popular. It was ordered played to inspire the men during the Spanish American War when it became our unofficial national anthem. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered The StarSpangled Banner played by all the Armed Forces of the
United States. Finally, in March of 1931, the 71st Congress passed a bill, officially designating The Star-Spangled Banner as our countrys national anthem. The bill was signed
by President Hoover. Today Americans everywhere are still inspired by the sight of our flag and by the words of the song that Francis Scott Key wrote to honor it.
And, as if in proof of those words, by order of the President of the United States, our flag still flies both day and night over historic Fort McHenry and in nearby Frederick, Maryland over the grave of Francis Scott Key.
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