Saturday, July 4, 2009

O'er the Land of the Free. . .

This is a photo of the actual flag that Francis Scott Key saw flying over Ft. McHenry. This flag had 15 stars and 15 stripes and originally measured 30x42 feet. Damage from the battle that Francis Scott Key witnessed reduced the flag to 30x34 feet. It has been kept since 1912 at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

It is a tradition that when a new flag is designed for use by the United States, it is first flown over Fort McHenry, over the same ramparts referred to in the National Anthem. Our anthem began as a poem entitled Defense of Fort McHenry, and was eventually set to music. The song quickly became accepted as our National Anthem. During the World Series of Baseball in 1917 it was sung in honor of our armed forces fighting in the Great War, and was so moving that it was repeated for every game thereafter. The Star Spangled Banner was officially declared our National Anthem in 1931.

Oh, 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 watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' 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?


~Francis Scott Key~

1 comment:

Lucy said...

When I was in Ft. McHenry many years ago, there was a whole large wall bearing the story of The Star Spangled Banner and pictures from every verse with all of it's meanings. Though I always loved that song, I have never taken the time until then to delve into the meaning of those verses. It is chilling! The last time I went there that wall mural was not there anymore. I was saddened. I did not know that about flags being flowng over Ft. McHenry first. What a neat thing to know. Thanks for this great uplift!