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History of National Anthem and Flag
The anthem and flag that symbolize our will, sacrifices, and pledge to remain free of oppression.

History of Anthem:

The words for the Star-Spangled Banner, written by Francis Scott Key, sprang to life as he was observing the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Originally it was a poem of Key's entitled, "Defense of Fort McHenry", that came to be sung to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven". It's melody was attributed to an Englishman named John Stafford Smith. Benjamin Carr of Baltimore published the first musical edition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." that grew in popularity with the passage of time. In 1931 an act of Congress made it official national anthem of the United States.

History of Flag:

In the early history of the American colonies, there was no specific flag that represented them as a union. It wasn't until 1776 that a single design was defined. This flag had the thirteen alternate red and white stripes and a blue field with the crosses of Saint Andrew and Saint George on it and was originally displayed by John Paul Jones in December 1775 on the ship Alfred. A month late, on January 2, 1776, George Washington displayed a flag of this design and declared it the Grand Union Flag.

The flag was altered after July 4, 1775 to reflect the independence of the newly formed union:

  • "Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen strips alternate red and while: that the union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field."
  • The colors chosen represented: "White for Purity and Innocence; Red for Hardiness and Valor; Blue for Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice."
  • Francis Hopkinson, signatory to the Declaration of Independence and a member of the Continental Congress, was the designer.
  • A flag maker by the name of Betsy Ross is credited by historians with suggesting the use of five pointed stars and producing the first flag of the new independent union.

On May 1, 1795, the flag was changed to fifteen stripes and stars to include Vermont and Kentucky who entered the union in 1791 and 1972 respectively.

The final design was enacted by Congress on April 4, 1818 returned to the original thirteen stripes with only the number of stars allowed to change:

    "That the flag of the United States be thirteen horizontal stripes, alternate red and white, and that on the admission of every State into the Union, one star to be added on the Fourth of July next succeeding admission."

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Lyrics to National Anthem

Play Anthem

First Verse.

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Second Verse.

On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream;
'Tis the Star-Spangled Banner, O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Third Verse.

Oh, thus be it ever when free men 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 Pow'r 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!

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