Star-Spangled Facts

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On September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key penned “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Set to the British tune “To Anacreon in Heaven,” “The Star-Spangled Banner” is inarguably one of the most difficult national anthems to sing.

The backdrop of the song was the British attack on Baltimore during the War of 1812. Key had been sent to negotiate a prisoner release and boarded the British flagship HMS Tonnant. During the negotiations with British Vice Adm. Alexander Cochrane, Key overheard the war plans. Consequently, the British held Key captive until after the assault on Fort McHenry, forcing him to stay on the HMS Surprise until the attack had been completed on September 14.

Through the night, Key watched the British bombard Fort McHenry and, as the sun rose, he saw the American flag still flying over the fort. In fact, the Americans had replaced a smaller flag with a much larger one. As the smoke cleared overnight from the fort, there flying at sunrise was Old Glory — then 15 stars and 15 stripes.

Key was moved to pen his poem, which he first named “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” It was later called “The Star-Spangled Banner” and became immensely popular in the new republic. It began to be played regularly at Independence Day celebrations. In 1899, the U.S. Navy began playing it, and President Woodrow Wilson, in 1916, ordered it regularly played by the military. In 1918, during the first World Series, the anthem became a fixture of baseball. In 1930, the Veterans of Foreign Wars started a petition to recognize it as our national anthem. It became just that on March 4, 1931. In 1956, Congress embraced the fourth verse of Key’s poem and adopted “In God We Trust” as our national motto.

Only recently have revisionists began to claim “The Star-Spangled Banner” is racist. The third verse includes the lines, “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.”

Gwen Berry, an American athlete and activist, turned her back last week when the anthem was played. She said in an interview that the national anthem has “a paragraph” that speaks to slavery. She means American chattel slavery. Her statement is born of revisionist ignorance.

Key's poem is about the attack on Baltimore and the battle at Fort McHenry. He was not alluding to or mentioning African slaves in the United States. At the time, the American Navy and military prided itself on being a volunteer service. The founders of the country were fearful of a standing army and embraced the concept of a volunteer service. Key stood on the deck of the HMS Surprise, a captive of the British, and watched the volunteer Americans fight off the fiercest empire on the planet.

The British Navy, at the enlisted level, consisted of hired mercenaries and sailors impressed against their will and forced to fight in service of the British. Those impressed sailors are the slaves Key referenced. Modern progressive historians have twisted the truth. The fact and actual truth -- not my truth or your truth, but the actual truth -- is that Francis Scott Key's entire third verse is about the British Navy.

It is common now to hear claims that Key referenced slaves and that the reference is about chattel slavery. It is foolish anti-American revisionism and ignorance to make that claim. It is devoid of both the historic context and actual truth. Key's poem stands the test of time and concludes beautifully with a fourth verse.

"O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand / Between their loved homes and the war's desolation. / Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land / Praise the Power that hath made and preserved 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!"

Have a wonderful Independence Day.

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20 thoughts on “Star-Spangled Facts”

  1. I think this person has a deep anger problem and to me it looks like she hates the world This is an honor only a select few can even dram to be She is going to compete she needs to free herself of this anger and who knows what she may be able to achieve
    She cannot disgrace our flag She must not embarrass herself that will be there forever

  2. Is it un-American to require all remembrances of history to include all real or imagined grievances? The purpose is what? That this revisionist historical mandate just happens to come during a period of riots and rising crime rates in Democratic enclaves is not lost on the voting public.

  3. Your motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” is in fact against the establishment clause in the Constitution when used with a government sponsored event.. It implies there exists a God that can be trusted. But, I agree there should be some sort of earnings adjustment for interfering with the event.

  4. It is a time where truth is not recognised. But the decietful lies of of those who seek the destruction of. our Nation.

  5. Who is the ignorant one? From the Smithsonian Magazine: “When he wrote the poem that would, in 1931, become the national anthem and proclaim our nation “the land of the free,” like Jefferson, Key not only profited from slaves, he harbored racist conceptions of American citizenship and human potential. Africans in America, he said, were: “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.”” (for more go to https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/wheres-debate-francis-scott-keys-slave-holding-legacy-180959550/) – Have a wonderful Independence Day.

  6. ” IT IS BEAUTIFUL “IF YOU CAN NOT HONOR IT FIND ANOTHER COUNTRY!! GOOD LUCK ! FROM A 1950s VETERAN

  7. I had never heard or read the 3rd verse, but like anything, people can twist things to make it what they want to make it mean. Personally, even though I served 20 years in the Navy, I would’ve rather our national anthem had been “America, the Beautiful.” It gives more open references to God and it’s more pleasant and easier song to have sung. It may not have had the martial sound to it, but I think it better depicted this country, though those who are anti-God would’ve had a great time putting it down because of its many references to God, but you know, if you don’t like God, why should you be able to demand that any references to Him be immediately removed. There are for more of us who honor Him than those who don’t. Why should they get to choose? If you don’t like it, don’t sing it!

  8. Any fool who says the Star Spangled Banner is hard to sing is absolutely tone deaf. And who really gives a damn HOW we sound singing it? Just STAND UP STRAIGHT AND SING IT LOUD so those who’ve given all they have to give for our country just might hear and realize that at least SOMEONE cares for their brave deeds. Many of us from MY generation left a lot of shipmates and comrades in arms behind when we came home in 1945. There’s nothing special about us because all we gave was our time.

  9. Any fool who says the Star Spangled Banner is hard to sing is absolutely tone deaf. And who really gives a damn HOW we sound singing it? Just STAND UP STRAIGHT AND SING IT LOUD so those who’ve given all they have to give for our country just might hear and realize that at least SOMEONE cares for their brave deeds. Many of us from MY generation left a lot of shipmates and comrades in arms behind when we came home in 1945. There’s nothing special about us because all we gave was our time.

  10. “As the smoke cleared overnight from the fort, there flying at sunrise was Old Glory — then 15 stars and 15 stripes.”

    Shed light on my ignorance. Since when did Old Glory have 15 STRIPES ??? I appreciated the clarification of the references to hireling and slave.

  11. Progressive revisionists tend to distort and deceive at every chance they can. Progressives ignore or are ignorant of history differences in verbiage, making claims that words and passages uttered and written in the past meant something completely different than their intention at the time they were communicated. In other words; Progressives continue to deceive US in order to divide US.

  12. Unfortunately some people thing everything is about them. Gwen Berry is one of those know nothing run your mouth lefties. Maybe if she bothered to read REAL history she would understand how badly the left has stomped on our history. Does he know the FIRST slave sold in America was John Casor. That was in Virginia in 1654. Casor was an indentured servant but the East(?) India Tea Co. changed the rules and indentured servants became legally slaves. The man he was indentured to claimed him as a slave and the court agreed. According to the court the “owner” was Anthony Johnson a black man who was from Gibraltar. A lot of blacks owned slaves and a lot of slaves were white. Lot of info on line or used to be.

    1. There is a lot of contrary info circulating about
      Black & White slaves owned by Blacks. It wasn’t as rare as
      Democrats would like you to believe but I’m sure it doesn’t come close to White owners of Black slaves and despite the fact that the practice is considered evil today it was practiced worldwide in days long gone. They key note to anyone with an once of gray matter between their ears is, “days long gone”. We all need to, at some point, move on.

  13. God bless the United States and all her people. Hopefully, biden, harris, pelosi, schumer, Abrams and the rest will all be locked up very soon and our real President will once again lead us to greatness.