‘…And the ramparts we watched…uh…and the home of the brave’

...And the ramparts we watched...uh...and the home of the brave

Elijah Brumback

On this day in 1931, the United States government adopted ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ as its national anthem in a Congressional resoluton signed by then-President Herbert Hoover. It was written by Francis Scott Kelly, a lawyer and amateur poet, after witnessing the Battle of Fort McHenry in the war of 1812.

The song was set to the tune of an old British drinking song sung by the Anacreotic Society of London, a gentlemen’s club comprised of mainly half-hearted musicians. Their songs were primarily about women, wine and entertaining.

Still, Key’s ballad, which is four stanzas long (only the first is actually sung), has become an antiquated tradition in many areas of American society. The armed services have adopted for many occasions as well as the NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB, who play the song routinely play song before sports contests. At one point Jimi Hendrix performed the song as part of almost every set he played.

In 2005, the U.S. government-sponsored National Anthem Project, after a study by Harris Interactive, a noted markey research firm based in New York, found that many adults knew neither the lyrics nor the history of the anthem.

Harris surveyed 2,200 American men and women 18 and older and found nearly two in three Americans — 61 percent — did not know all of the words to ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’ Of those who claimed to know all the words, only 39 percent knew what follows “whose broad stripes and bright stars” (answer:“through the perilous fight”). Thirty-four percent answered “were so gallantly streaming” and 19 percent answered “gave proof through the night.”

Of those who answered correctly, 58 percent had received at least five years of music classes in schools growing up.

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