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How Did the US National Anthem Come About?

Current US Flag

Do you remember from history class that the US National Anthem did not actually originate in 1776 once the US declared itself independent of Britain’s rule? I’ll be honest, I did not. History was not my favorite subject in school.

Francis Scott Key is the man credited for the Star-Spangled Banner, however that was not its original name, and it was not even a song at first.


In 1812, a war erupted between the US and Britain due to

trade disagreements. Towards the end of the war, the British set fire to the White House and the Library of Congress. Their next target was Maryland. Key’s friend, Dr. William Beanes had been captured and was being held in Baltimore. Key found where Beanes was being held and was able to negotiate his release. Part of the negotiation was that Key and Beanes could not leave until after the Battle of Fort McHenry. After a day of bombing, the British could not overtake Fort McHenry. Key sees the flag still flying high the following morning and is inspired to write a poem.

The poem was called “The Defence of Fort M’Henry.” It was four verses long, and the 3rd line in the first verse was about the events he witnessed.


And the rockets' red glare The bombs bursting in air Gave proof through the night That our flag was still there

Key gave a copy of the poem to his brother who noticed the beat of the poem seemed to fit a popular English drinking song called “To Anacreon in Heaven” (also known as “The Anacreontic Song”), composed by John Stafford Smith. The poem was printed in newspapers and said to set the beat to this song. People ended up coining the poem as The Star Spangled Banner.

National Anthem at Sporting Event

Several different version of The Star-Spangled version emerged, so in 1916, Woodrow Wilson, 28th US President, approved one, single version and stated it should be played before all sporting events. But it wasn’t until 1931, under the 31st US President, Herbert Hoover, did the song become the US National Anthem.

Today’s version is only the first verse of the poem and song.

The National Anthem shows pride, passion, and perseverance it took protect our freedom. We at AOM want to be constantly reminded it takes work and a community to maintain what we hold dear. The courage and sacrifice we take everyday to be our own identity is what America believes in and what An Otter Milestone stands for. We want to wish each of you a beautiful day full of fun and memories to last a lifetime. Please remember to stay safe for you, your loved ones, and our community.

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