Tuesday, October 03, 2023

THE VETERANS' PRESS: History of 'The Star Spangled Banner’

| May 31, 2021 1:00 AM

On March 3, 1931, U.S. President Herbert Hoover signed an act that officially made “The Star Spangled Banner” the national anthem for the United States. Before this time, the United States had been without any national anthem.

The words of “The Star Spangled Banner” were first written on Sept. 14, 1814, by Francis Scott Key as a poem titled, “The Defense of Fort McHenry.” Key, a lawyer and an amateur poet, was being detained on a British warship during the British naval bombardment of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. When the bombardment subsided and Key witnessed that Fort McHenry was still flying its huge American flag, he began writing his poem. (Historical Note: This flag was truly huge! It measured 42 by 30 feet!) Key recommended that his poem be sung as a song to the popular British tune, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” It soon became known as “The Star Spangled Banner.”

“The Star Spangled Banner” was published in a number of newspapers at the time, but by the Civil War it had become one of the most popular patriotic songs of the United States. By the late 19th century, “The Star Spangled Banner” had become the official song of the U.S. military, but it wasn’t until 1931 that the United States officially made “The Star Spangled Banner” the official national anthem of the country.

Interestingly, it was Robert L. Ripley of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” that spurred the interest of the American people to demand “The Star Spangled Banner” to become the official national anthem. On Nov. 3, 1929, Ripley ran a panel in his syndicated cartoon stating that “Believe It or Not, America has no national anthem.” Americans were shocked and wrote five million letters to Congress demanding Congress proclaim a national anthem.

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Thanks to the Idaho Division of Veteran Services for providing this info in their April 2021 Bulletin.

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