The song of our nation was penned by Washington attorney Francis Scott Key at a dramatic moment during the War of 1812. On the night of September 13, 1814, Key watched as our country was attacked by the British navy at Fort McHenry. After watching the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air throughout the night, dawn broke. Key was expecting to find Baltimore firmly under British control, but was stunned to see a battered but still flying American flag waving in the sunrise. So inspired was Key that he wrote the poem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Set to a tune attributed to John Stafford Smith, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” it became America's national anthem in 1931.
(From MENC: National Anthem Project)
To learn more about the history of the Star-Spangled Banner, listen to or sing-along, or to test your knowledge in a Jeopardy game, try out the links below.