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Whose Broad Stripes and Bright Stars–Pic of the Week

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Flag that flew over Ft. McHenry 9/13/1814. Credit: NMAH Smithsonian Institution
Flag that flew over Ft. McHenry 9/13/1814. Credit: NMAH Smithsonian Institution

On this day in 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed into law a bill making The Star Spangled Banner the national anthem of the United States.   The lyrics were taken from a poem by attorney Francis Scott Key who was inspired to write after witnessing the Royal Navy’s bombardment of Fort McHenry while on board ship in Baltimore Harbor during the night of September 13-14, 1814.  The bombardment was part of the Chesapeake Campaign during the War of 1812, the same campaign that had earlier resulted in the burning of Washington.

The poem, while immediately popular, and shortly afterwards set to music to a popular tune, was not the immediate choice for a national anthem.  Serious congressional consideration of the matter only occurred during World War I when a joint resolution was introduced by Representative Louis T. McFadden in April 1918.  During the next almost 13 years five additional bills would be introduced before H.R. 14, sponsored by Representative John Linthicum of Maryland, was finally approved by both the House and the Senate and presented to the president for his approval.

The flag that flew over Ft. McHenry and inspired Key is housed in a special display area at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.  In the first years of this century scientists and technicians performed an extensive conservation project on the flag to preserve it for all Americans to see in its third century.


  1. I would like to thank Mr. Jim Martin for bringing the fact that America’s original songwriters were everyday people from everyday families who shared a tradition and that tradition was and is a Freedom! The Freedom of Songwriters!
    The English Renaissance in England was where NEWS of the day was sang in taverns and cafe’s! These are the times when folk songs that were being sang in a call & response folk style community tradition that was shared with all that would take part or could just listen! But by no means was it really FREE! It wasn’t a place where locals would feel free to sing wherever they chose to! There was no religious freedom and to speak up against the crown (that was also religious) would surly be a an open invitation to being arrested with that of your family! There would be none of that with King Charles on the throne and many were punished for speaking up in their lyric’s!
    Freedom of speech, freedom of religion went hand & hand with true folk music! Folk music that was free was born in America! It has been been an All American Tradition and as family of the earliest of the settlers who etched the first poem in blue stone ~ publishing the first free poem in America I salute our Great Country! Built on FREEDOMS never before realized on the planet! God Bless America!

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