The Star-Spangled Banner
Our national anthem was written as Francis Scott Key watched the bombing of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. The British tried to destroy Fort McHenry, which guarded Baltimore’s harbor. On September 13, 1814 the British bombarded the fort all night.
During the all-night attack, Francis Scott Key watched the attack from a British warship where he was being held as a prisoner. As he walked back and forth on the deck of the ship he could see the American flag lit up from the explosions of rockets. Then the smoke and fog got so thick that Key could not see. He wondered all night if the fort had held out and if the flag was still flying.
Then by the "dawn’s early light," Key saw that the torn and burned flag was still there. He wanted to write down his feelings so he wrote a poem on the back of a letter he was carrying. When he was freed the next day, the poem was printed and passed around Baltimore. It was later set to music and sung to the tune of an old English song. In 1931 the song became our national anthem and was sung in praise of our country.
The original 15-star and 15-stripe flag was an enormous 30 feet by 42 feet. Part of it was blown up during the 25 hours of bombing at Fort McHenry. The banner printed as the background for the national anthem is displayed in the Museum of History and Technology, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Fort McHenry is a beautifully restored national monument in Baltimore, Maryland, which is open to the public.
Mrs. Huber's Class | Pocantico Hills School
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Pocantico Hills School