Star Spangled Banner

Written by Francis Scott Key in 1814.  It became the National Anthem of the U.S. in 1931.


Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming;
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through 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?

On the shore, dimly seen through 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! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps pollution,
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!

Oh, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory 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!

Biographical and Historical Note:

The incidents referred to in this poem occurred during the War of 1812.  In August 1814, a strong force of British entered Washington and burned the Capitol, the White House, and many other public buildings.  On September 13, 1814, Francis Scott Key visited the British fleet in Chesapeake Bay to secure the release of Dr. William Beanes, who had been captured after the burning of Washington.  The release was secured, but Key was detained on the British ship overnight during the shelling of Fort McHenry, one of the forts defending Baltimore.

The bombardment of the fort lasted all night.  The fort was so bravely defended that the American flag was still waving over it the next morning.  Francis Key Scott was so joyous and full of pride to see it still flying that he began to write the stirring words of a poem to commemorate the occasion.

The poem was first published under the title of "Defence of Fort McHenry."  In 1931, "The Star Spangled Banner" was officially declared the National Anthem by Congress, although it already had been adopted as such by the army and the navy.


The 15-star, 15-stripe "Star Spangled Banner Flag" which inspired the poem,
is housed in the 'National Museum of American History' in Washington, D.C.

Enter Recipient's Email:


Please click here for permission to use graphics.

[Next]    [July 4th Place]

[Holidays Place]   [Home]