March 3rd 1931: ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ adopted

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The original ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ which inspired Key

 

On this day in 1931, the United States formally adopted ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ as its national anthem. The song was written by Francis Scott Key, who was inspired after witnessing the defence of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. He was particularly moved by the sight of an American flag being raised over the fort in defiance of the British; this image inspired the poem which provides the lyrics to ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’.

 

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Francis Scott Key (1779 – 1843)

 

The tune came from a well-known 18th century British song. The anthem was a popular patriotic American song for many years, and was commonly used by the armed forces prior to its official adoption. In 1931, at the urging of many patriotic organisations, a congressional resolution was signed by President Hoover which affirmed Key’s song as America’s national anthem.

 

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The earliest known manuscript of Key’s song

 

I have always personally enjoyed listening to the national anthems of countries around the world, and recently wrote about the Indian national anthem, Jana Gana Mana. My country’s national anthem is fairly dull and monotonous (God Save the Queen), so maybe that’s why I enjoy more tuneful songs like La Marseillaise, Deutschland Uber Alles and Advance Australia Fair. The Star-Spangled Banner is a wonderful song, and does truly conjure up the imagery that is often (whether erroneously or not) associated with America: freedom, liberty etc. etc. The musicality of Key’s prose vaguely reminds one of his distant relative and namesake Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (F. Scott Fitzgerald) who wrote ‘The Great Gatsbsy’, a classic American novel. At any rate, today is a good day to have an explore of YouTube and check out the national anthems around the world; ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ has a great deal of competition!

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3 responses to “March 3rd 1931: ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ adopted

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post! Since I am American, I must agree that the song truly does evoke a sense of freedom and pride for my country. The music in itself builds to a climax in the end that has always left me with a feeling of wonderment. I will definitely have to go look up other national anthems as well since your post has left me curious!

    • I’m really glad you enjoyed it, thanks for commenting! I’d definitely recommend having a listen on YouTube, it’s really cool to see how other countries define themselves through their national anthems. Even as a Brit I have to admit the US anthem is very stirring, much better than ours!

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