200th Anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner” – and Weekend Links

From the moment the first few chords of our song is played, people rise and place their hand on their heart. Hats come off and voices are raised. Some people sing – only about 40% of us really know the words. Some people become emotional *raises hand*. Our eyes all go to the flag. Our flag. And at the end of our song, EVERYONE cheers. It’s just what we do when we hear our song, and see our flag. This weekend, we recognize the 200th Anniversary of our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner”.

The words of “The Star Spangled Banner” were first written on September 14, 1814 by Francis Scott Key as a poem titled, “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” Here’s the backstory:

While helping in a prisoner trade between the British and Americans in the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and an amateur poet, was detained on a British warship while they bombed the hell out of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry. From his vantage point, he watched throughout the night as many, many British rockets battered the American position. In the morning, when the bombardment had subsided, Key saw that Fort McHenry was still flying its awesomely huge American flag which measured 42 by 30 feet. He was overcome with emotion, and began writing his poem…

handwritten star spangled bannerFrancis Scott Key’s handwritten lyrics of The Star-Spangled Banner

Within a week, Francis Scott Key had his lyrics copied and handed out to every member of the defenders of Ft. McHenry. Key recommended that his poem be sung as a song to the popular British tune, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” (And yes, it’s true, that tune was a drinking song!) His poem, set to music, soon became known as “The Star Spangled Banner.”

“The Star Spangled Banner” was published in a number of newspapers at the time, but by the Civil War it had become one of the most popular patriotic songs of the United States. The anthem’s first appearance at a sporting event was at the 1918 World Series. In the late 1920s, bandleader John Philip Sousa got behind the growing movement to find a national anthem for the country, throwing his support to “Banner.” In 1931, President Herbert Hoover finally made it official – it’s our song.

Generally, I like hearing a traditional version of The Star-Spangled Banner sung. But over the years, there have been some memorable ones. Here are just a few of my favorite versions:

Awesome 4 yo Jillian Harris at Indiana Pacers Game, 2010

Meatloaf throwing it down, 1994 MLB All-Star Game

Madison Rising!

Marvin Gaye, 1983 NBA All-Star Game

Carrie Underwood, 2006 MLB All-Star Game

Whitney Houston, Super Bowl 1991

Yes, all of this for a flag and long may she wave.

Our “Weekend Links” are below the fold!

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Ava Gardner