The Star Spangled Banner – An Ode to the Defense of Liberty

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Independence Day is a great time to renew our appreciation for the Flag of the United States of America and what it stands for along with our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.

Enjoy the above video of Madison Rising’s stirring rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Francis Scott Key’s song — Defence of Fort McHenry, which became known as The Star Spangled Banner, embodies the unbreakable spirit of American Patriots defending Liberty against the overwhelming onslaught of Tyranny. That Flag at Fort McHenry withstood the merciless barrage and stood as a symbol of the victory of Liberty over Tyranny. As such, generations of American Patriots have always been proud to have The Star Spangled Banner as our National Anthem.

The Bombardment of Fort McHenry 1814
A VIEW of the BOMBARDMENT of Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, by the British fleet taken from the Observatory under the Command of Admirals Cochrane & Cockburn on the morning of the 13th of Sept 1814 which lasted 24 hours & thrown from 1500 to 1800 shells in the Night attempted to land by forcing a passage up the ferry branch but were repulsed with great loss.

Paul Harvey’s Rendition of the Legend of the Star Spangled Banner

Frances Scott Key waited on the British warship with American prisoners praying that our flag was still standing throughout the merciless bombardment of Fort McHenry by the entire British navy during the war of 1812. When the British admiral asked about the Americans holding the fort: “Don’t they understand this is an impossible situation?” Francis related that George Washington had once said that the thing that sets the American Christian apart from all other people in the world is he will die on his feet before he’ll live on his knees. Every-time, that flag was knocked down, Patriots risked their lives to raise it back up. No one tells this great American story as well as Paul Harvey tells it!


The True Story Behind the Star Spangled Banner

The story behind the Star Spangled Banner
How the flag that flew proudly over Fort McHenry inspired an anthem and made its way to the Smithsonian.

The Star Spangled Banner that flew over Fort McHenry - Independence Day
First known photograph of the Star Spangled Banner that flew over Fort McHenry as seen at the Boston Navy Yard in 1873. For more see: The Story Behind the Star Spangled Banner – Smithsonian Magazine.

“It seemed as though mother earth had opened and was vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone,” Key wrote later. But when darkness arrived, Key saw only red erupting in the night sky. Given the scale of the attack, he was certain the British would win. The hours passed slowly, but in the clearing smoke of “the dawn’s early light” on September 14, he saw the American flag—not the British Union Jack—flying over the fort, announcing an American victory.

The Story Behind the Star Spangled Banner – Smithsonian Magazine.


First Printing of Defence of Fort McHenry

Defence of Fort M’Henry - First Printing 1814
First printing of Defence of Fort M’Henry by Francis Scott Key – Sept 17, 1814 – Library of Congress

Transcript & Full Lyrics of Defence of Fort McHenry

The annexed song was composed under the following circumstances —

A gentleman had left Baltimore, in a flag of truce for the purpose of getting released from the British fleet, a friend of his who had been captured at Marlborough. — He went as far as the mouth of the Patuxent, and was not permitted to return lest the intended attack on Baltimore should be disclosed. He was therefore brought up the Bay to the mouth of the Patapsco, where the flag vessel was kept under the guns of a frigate, and he was compelled to witness the bombardment of Fort McHenry, which the Admiral had boasted that he would carry in a few hours, and that the city must fall. He watched the flag at the Fort through the whole day with an anxiety that can be better felt than described, until the night prevented him from seeing it. In the night he watched the Bomb Shells, and at early dawn his eye was again greeted by the proudly waving flag of his country.

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 watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the Bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our Flag was still there;

O ! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the Land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected new shines in the stream,

’Tis the star spangled banner, O ! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the Land of the free and the Home of the Brave.

O ! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d home, and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land,
Praise the Power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto — “In God is our trust;”

And the star-spangled Banner in triumph shall wave,
O’er the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave!

Defence of Fort McHenry (The Star Spangled Banner )
by Francis Scott Key

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