American History

How many Americans can tell you the story behind the symbols of history?

Celebrating the symbols of American history: The Star Spangled Banner and the Battle of Baltimore

September 14th, 2014 marked the 200th anniversary of a notable event in American history.  Other than the website of the national park that is commemorating the event, there's not much conversation to be found.

If I asked 10 people the significance of September 14th, 1814, I would be surprised if more than one person could answer correctly. 

Does anyone study history anymore?

From studying history in school I remember names and dates on a timeline. History is more than just memorizing a date.  Throuhout my life I have visited many historic sites to learn more about the events associated with the famous names and dates.

I recall a volunteer tour guide at a historic site lamenting that Americans really don't know much about history.  The guide was a World War II veteran who was sharing his personal insights and perspectives of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces during World War II.

There are many symbols in our lives that we accept, without knowing why. As a parent I often took my kids to many historic sites to give some meaning to those names and dates on a timeline.

In the aftermath of the terrorism of September 2001, I wanted to take our family somewhere to reflect on the price America has paid for freedom. We visited Fort McHenry in Baltimore, the birthplace of our National Anthem.

Before every sporting event and many other social gatherings we rise for the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner. But how many Americans can tell you the story behind the song?

The 200th anniversary of the story behind the symbol


Those who say we celebrate September 14th, 1814 as the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner are missing the story behind the symbol.

Francis Scott Key was an American prisoner on a British ship who saw the large American flag still flying above Fort McHenry's ramparts.   On the morning of the September 14th, 1814, inspired by the American flag waving above Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key would write that "the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

Key's poem "Defence of Fort McHenry"  is a first hand account of the young American republic as they held their ground over Britain in The Battle of Baltimore.
 

Star Spangled Banner is not the easiest song to sing at football games

Flag flying at Fort Baltimore - photo by Questy

I don't disagree that the Star Spangled Banner is not the easiest song to sing at Football games.  But does anyone really know what "The Star-Spangled Banner" represents? 

What bombs are bursting in air?

The lyrics to the United States national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner" tell the story of a second victory by the United States over Britain in our fight for independence.

The bombs bursting in air, and the rockets red glare are those of The Battle of Baltimore in 1814.

From time to time America the Beautiful has been proposed as a replacement for The Star-Spangled Banner as the national anthem. America the Beautiful is one of the most beloved of American patriotic songs, but it is strictly a patriotic poem, it is not symbolic of a single event.

Check out my website American Philosopher.US where I have this article on The Story behind the Star Spangled Banner.

We are celebrating the bicentennial of something?

We are celebrating the bicentennial of The War of 1812, but most folks have zero clue as to why we fought the war of 1812.

I'm on a rant right now about the war of 1812.  America's often forgotten conflict is given so little meaning that we name it simply by the year the war started. The War of 1812 is an important conflict in the fight for American independence.

In my previous post I asked, What if they had the internet in 1812?  I hope to stretch your brain a bit not only to reflect on where we are in 2012, but where we came from in 1812.

Stretch your brain a bit. Check out my website American Philosopher.US where I have some reflections on the world mixed with  some American history.

 

Photograph of flag flying above Fort McHenry,
taken by Questy, September 2001

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