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National Anthem Day



Before 1931, the United States did not have an official National Anthem, but "Hail, Columbia!" and "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" were often sung at official events. The Star Spangled Banner was already a known song before it was chosen to be the American national anthem. It was widely used in a patriotic and military context, especially during the Civil War. The lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner" originate from a poem written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 entitled "The Defense of Fort McHenry", it took inspiration from the Battle of Baltimore. The Battle of Baltimore Francis Scott Key was an American lawyer and amateur poet who served in the Georgetown Light Field Artillery. In 1812, during the Battle of Baltimore between America and The UK, a friend of Key's was taken prisoner by the British. Key quickly traveled to Baltimore to negotiate for his release, which was granted by the British, but they were not allowed to leave before the British army bombarded Fort McHenry. On September 13, 1814, for 25 hours, the British bombarded Fort McHenry with over 1500 cannon shots, during a strong storm of thunder and rain. It is claimed that the explosions could be heard as far as Philadelphia. Scott Key witnessed this attack aboard a ship that was eight miles away. Even after a whole day of attacking the fort, the British could not destroy it and so retreated. In the morning, Francis Scott Key was amazed to see the American flag still standing tall, undestroyed, on Fort McHenry. This inspired him to write a poem in tribute to the American flag and the country for which it stands, titled "The Defense of Fort McHenry". The front cover to the music score of The Star Spangled Banner. Sepia paper and faded print, stars and images decorate it Combining lyrics and score Scott Key's brother-in-law discovered that the lines of the poem fit perfectly with John Stafford Smith's melody "The Anacreontic Song", so the poem was published in several newspapers with the note "to the tune of The Anacreontic Song". The song kept growing in popularity throughout the 19th century, and eventually became known as "The Star-Spangled Banner". Many branches of the United States Armed Forces used "The Star-Spangled Banner" as their official song during the 19th century, and in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson signed an order that stated the song should be played at military events in an official capacity. In 1930, Veterans of Foreign Wars petitioned for "The Star-Spangled Banner" to be recognized as the National Anthem of The United States. On March 3rd, 1931, Congress passed an act confirming "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the National Anthem, which was signed into law by President Hoover. Since "The Star-Spangled Banner" was made into the National Anthem, it has become customary to stand while the anthem is being played. The military should salute the flag, while everyone else places their right hand over their heart while singing the national anthem.

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