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The “Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defense of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.

With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the poem has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889, and by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931, which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Throughout the rainy night, Key had witnessed the bombardment and observed that the fort's flag continued to fly, through the shell and rocket barrage. During the bombardment, British ship HMS Erebus provided the "rockets' red glare" and British ship HMS Meteor provided some of the "bombs bursting in air". Key was inspired by the American victory and the sight of the large American flag flying triumphantly above the fort. 

By the early 20th century, there were various ver-sions of the song in popular use. Seeking a singular, standard version, President Woodrow Wilson tasked the U.S. Bureau of Education with providing an official ver-sion. In response, the Bureau enlisted the help of five musicians to agree upon an arrangement that premiered at Carnegie Hall on December 5, 1917.

The song gained popularity throughout the 19th century and on July 27, 1889, Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy signed General Order #374, making "The Star-Spangled Banner" the official tune to be played at the raising of the flag.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that "The Star-Spangled Banner" be played at military and other appropriate occasions. The "Star-Spangled Banner" was performed as early as 1897 at opening day baseball game ceremonies in Philadelphia and often at the Polo Grounds in New York City beginning in 1898. The tradi-tion of performing the national anthem before every baseball game began in World War II. 

On November 3, 1929,  Ripley's Believe it or Not!, stated "Believe It or Not, America has no national anthem". In 1931, John Philip Sousa published his opinion in favor, stating that "it is the spirit of the music that inspires" as much as it is Key's "soul-stirring" words. By a law signed on March 3, 1931 by President Herbert

Hoover, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was adopted as the national anthem of the United States.

The "Star-Spangled Banner" heard today has a countless number of musical interpretations. Marvin Gaye gave a soul-influenced performance at the 1983 NBAAll-Star Game and Whitney Houston gave a soulful rendition before Super Bowl XXV in 1991, which was released as a single that charted at number 20 in 1991 and number 6 in 2001 (the only times the anthem has been on the Billboard Hot 100). Another famous instrumental interpretation is Jimi Hendrix's version which was a set-list staple from autumn 1968 until his death in September 1970. Incorporating sonic effects to emphasize the "rockets' red glare", and "bombs bursting in air", it became a late-1960s emblem. 

The custom of standing during the Anthem came about in Tacoma, Washington, on October 18, 1893. United States Code, 36 U.S.C. § 301, states that during a rendition of the national anthem, when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart; Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present and not in uniform may render the military salute; men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed. Military law requires all vehicles on the installation to stop when the song is played and all individuals outside to stand at attention and face the direction of the music and either salute, in uniform, or place the right hand over the heart, if out of uniform. Recently enacted law in 2008 allows military veterans to salute out of uniform, as well.

However, this statutory suggestion does not have any penalty associated with violations. 36 U.S.C. § 301 This behavioral requirement for the national anthem is subject to the same First Amendment controversies that surround the Pledge of Allegiance.

Star Spangled Banner

“In Honor” Chicago - 2001 Pastel, 15 x 20 “In Honor of those who lost their lives and those whose lives were forever changed”

-Nancie King Mertz - ART DE TRIUMP H

www.NancieKingMertz.com 773-832-4038

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