“The Star-Spangled Banner” is easily the most beloved American anthem ever to be written, an homage to the American flag during the War of 1812. But the flag had been around for years, and the nation had fought for its independence during the previous century. Why did these lyrics get penned down so many years later?
Here is some context behind the song’s lyrics and why the poem was written. Francis Scott Key was being held on a British ship during the Battle of Baltimore and the naval bombardment of Fort McHenry.
When a new day had dawned, he could see the American flag still waving and knew that the British had failed to take the fort. America had held the fort victoriously through the night. After witnessing that triumph, Key was inspired to pen down the first verse to “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
It is believed that the weight of the lyrics hold a much deeper meaning than some may realize. The author of the article “Symbols of a New Nation” wrote that the War of 1812 had “…inspired a fresh wave of patriotism in a generation too young to remember the Revolution. When Key declared that ‘our flag was still there,’ he fused the physical symbol of the nation with universal feelings of patriotism, courage, and resilience.”
Liberty of Congress, C-Span, “Symbols of a New Nation”