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Star Spangled Banner birthday – March 3
Editor, Record Express,
The Star Spangled Banner, our National Anthem, was written by Francis Scott Key, a lawyer who practiced law during the War of 1812 in Baltimore. In 1814, one of Key’s friends, Dr. Beanes, was held prisoner by the British aboard the ship Minden in Baltimore Harbor. Key decided he would try to obtain his friend’s release.
Carrying a flag of truce and a letter from President Madison, Key rowed out to the ship on Sept. 13, 1814. His request for the friends’ freedom was granted; both men were detained on board because the British were about to bombard Fort McHenry. During the bombardment, Key watched the Stars and Stripes flying over the Fort. Darkness fell and he could no longer see the flag, but the Fort kept on firing back at the British so Key knew the American stronghold had not surrendered. When daylight returned, Key was overjoyed to see that the flag was still there.
Taking an old envelope from his pocket, he wrote the stirring opening words, “O, say can you see by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming, whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, o’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming.”
Key completed the verse after he returned ashore. His verse was published in the Baltimore American on Sept. 21, 1814. It immediately became popular. Later the words were set to the English “Anacreon in Heaven” which is the tune we sing today.
The campaign to make the Star Spangled Banner our National Anthem by congressional enactment was conceived in 1928 by Director of the VFW National Americanism Committee Captain Walter I. Joyce. Joyce launched this drive when Congressman Hamilton Fish introduced the first Star Spangled Banner bill to the 69th Congress.
Little progress was made in two succeeding sessions. Meantime, VFW petitions circulated across the nation recording the signatures of five million American citizens. All favored the Star Spangled Banner as the National Anthem. By February 1931 the bill was reported favorably by the Congressional Library Committee but certain senators prevented it coming up for the floor approval. Finally, Joyce and other VFW members called upon the recalcitrant lawmakers. The opposition was overcome and the bill was finally adopted unanimously on March 3, 1931.
This song, so steeped in history, should always remain our National Anthem, so on this special day, the National Department of PA, District 9, local Lititz Springs Post 1463 Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary urge everyone to fly the “Stars and Stripes” in honor of the adoption of our National Anthem. Catch the spirit, as hand in hand, united we stand.
Lititz Springs VFW Post 1463