13 September 2010

O! Say Can You See...

Thanks to Shaun Baker for reminding me that today is the anniversary of the bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814.  The battle would be only a minor footnote in history, had it not been for a poem written on the morning of September 14th, "The Defence of Fort McHenry".  Set to the tune of a British drinking song, it became a rousing success.

Contemporary audiences, however, will recognize the song by its more common name, "The Star-Spangled Banner". 

Fun facts:

  • "The Star-Spangled Banner" was named the National Anthem of the United States in 1931.
  • The "Star-Spangled Banner" was sung before all major-league baseball games starting in World War Two.  However, it was frequently sung during the season openers and during the seventh-inning stretch as far back as 1897.
  • The flag which flew over Fort McHenry had fifteen stars and fifteen stripes.
  • 61% of Americans are unable to recall all the words to the first stanza of the song.
  • The "rockets' red glare" came from Congreve rockets fired by the HMS Erebus.  The "bombs bursting in air" came from the mortar ships HMS Terror, Volcano, Meteor, Devastation, and Aetna.  I only mention this because those are some pretty wicked ship names.  Too bad ancient Greek gods of darkness aren't influential members of Congress with control over defense spending.