National Anthem Day
The Star-Spangled Banner is a song that has been around for over 200 years but has only been the national anthem of the United States for the past 90 years. This song, which was originally intended as a poem and not as an actual song, is celebrated on March 3rd every year in the U.S. This holiday is aptly named National Anthem Day, and it is a day on which many Americans are going to want to celebrate with a rousing chorus of this song or by learning its history.
The History Of The Star-Spangled Banner
The Star-Spangled Banner was originally penned by Francis Scott Key on September 13, 1814, following the massive naval bombardment of Fort McHenry in Maryland during the War of 1812. He had watched the siege of the fort while he was detained on a British ship. Throughout the bombardment, Fort McHenry suffered under 1,800 attacks by cannonballs, rockets, and shells.
Due to the shallow water that surrounded the fort, the British were unable to use their heavy warships, so they had to attack using bomb vessels, the HMS Aetna, Terror, Meteor, Volcano, and Devastation. The British also used the HMS Erebus, a rocket ship that fired Congreve Rockets, a newly invented weapon that burst in the air and left a red glow. It was these rockets that would directly inspire the song’s line “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air.”
Even though the fort received an incredible amount of punishment from British vessels, by the end of it the American flag was still waving, and the fort was still standing. This was such an inspiring sight to Key that he penned the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry.” This poem would eventually be circulated as a handbill and on September 20, 1814, it was published in a Baltimore newspaper. Over the 19th century, the title of the song would be changed to The Star-Spangled Banner and it was set to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a popular English drinking song.
For many years, The Star-Spangled Banner was treated as the national anthem by most branches of the United States military, but it wasn’t the official national anthem. This would change in 1916 when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed a presidential order that declared it the national anthem. This would be made official in March of 1931 when the United States Congress passed an act that officially established it as the national anthem, and this act was signed into law by President Hoover.
How To Celebrate National Anthem Day
Celebrating National Anthem Day is as easy as singing the national anthem or learning more about it. It’s also a good day to take a tour of where the song originated: Fort McHenry. This fort is now officially known as the Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine. People who are visiting this national monument might want to post pictures of their visit to their social media profiles using the hashtag #NationalAnthemDay as well.