...And the rockets' red glare,
The bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave?
O'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave...
Although we all know that the holiday we will celebrate Monday s the 240th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence - a statement declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation - not everyone realizes how the Star Spangled Banner came to be, or that it was not written during the Revolutionary War.
As a matter of fact, Francis Scott Key didn't call it the Star Spangled Banner. His original title was Defence of Fort M'Henry.
It was during the War of 1812 that the verses that would become our national anthem were written.
Key was an influential lawyer who volunteered to negotiate with the British for the return of some American prisoners captured during the war, and being held on the the flagship of the British fleet on the Chesapeake Bay. He and some friends were permitted to board the ship and were successful in their efforts, but since they had learned of plans of the British fleet to attack Fort McHenry at Baltimore, they were allowed to re-board their own vessel, but under British guard.
It was under this close scrutiny that on the night of 13 September 1814, Key watched anxiously as the British fleet continued to shell Fort McHenry, and the Americans became slower and slower to return fire. At twilight, he could still see the 30 by 42 foot Stars and Stripes (one of two flags made the previous year by a woman named Mary Pickersgill), tattered but still flying over Fort McHenry. The shelling continued throughout the night.
By dawn, an eerie silenced descended. Through the smoke, fog and haze, Key and the other Americans looked for the flag. There was a break in the haze, and they could see it.
Our flag was still there... announcing the American victory.
Mary Pickersgill's original flag is preserved at the Smithsonian Institute.
The memory of our ancestors and other relatives who fought for our independence from England during the Revolutionary War, and then fought for it again during the War of 1812, is preserved in our hearts.
Joshua Bloomer Ashmore, Sr.
Stephen Bloomer Balch
Jesse George Hoshal
Nelson Edward Parrish
The War of 1812
John S T Callaway
Ephraim C Lemley, Sr.
Abraham Lincoln Parrish
Lest we forget...