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The Ironic Story of the Star Spangled Banner

A few summers back, we were visiting Fort McHenry which is the birth place of our National Anthem. The story of our flag is probably a little different than you realize.

First, the story of the battle raging over Fort McHenry near Baltimore Maryland which inspired the poem by Francis S. Key was the War of 1812, not the Revolutionary War.

It seems the English couldn't quite believe they really did lose to a bunch of upstart colonies! So they tried to take the United States back.

In the battle over Fort McHenry, the Americans were defending their fledging land of freedom and Constitutional rights.

The reporter, Francis Scott Key went to the battle to observe and report. He hitched a ride out to the English ship to see and interview from the British point of view. But once he was there, fearing that the US could use him as a spy, the British wouldn't let him return to shore. So he was held prisoner through the night. The flag he longed to see was 30 feet high and 40 feet wide. It had fifteen stars and fifteen stripes.

The USA flag had been standardized in 1794 with the intension of adding a star AND a stripe for each state to join the union.

The poem was set to music shortly after it was published and became a popular patriotic song, but it wasn't made the National Anthem until 1937.

At the visitors' center at Ft. McHenry, you can walk all over the fort, but it's kept in its Civil War era iteration. We walked the paths, watched the volunteer costumed"troops" demonstrate parading, shooting and canon firing.


We saved the visitor's center for last. An interesting movie illustrates the battle, the poem, the hope in the heart of Key for his nation's triumph.

Then, after the tale is told and the movie shows the stars and stripes appearing through the smoke and chaos of the battle, the curtains in front of the audience are drawn back, the room floods with light as the music swells. "Oh say does that Star Spangled banner yet wave, O're the land of the Free and the home of the Brave?

There in majesty and beauty is the giant flag, waving gently over the walls of the historic fort.

I burst into tears! They were tears of patriotic love and gratitude to God, mingled with the sadness for the corruption and loss of righteousness that is sweeping our nation. Are we still free and brave? Do we realize how unthinkably blessed we are and if we do, what would we sacrifice to protect it?


American Flag from 9-11 in museum case
Flag from Twin Towers 9-11 site.

Freedom is the PRODUCT of Righteousness. Teach your children to love freedom born of righteousness. Let us be a nation of truth-tellers, keepers of the law, and lovers of justice for all. Let us love God and thank Him for this gift of freedom and prosperity, unique in the history of the earth. God bless America!

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