There are many historical happenings surrounding the month of September. September 1, 1939, Adolf Hitler invaded Poland and began WWII. The United States would join in this battle following the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. On September 2, 1945, on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japanese representatives signed the official document of surrender, ending WWII. None of us will ever forget September 11, 2001, when America was attacked by terrorists in kamikaze flights that toppled the Twin Towers, crashed into the Pentagon, attempted to destroy the White House or Capitol Building, and killed thousands of people. Though I have only mentioned a few of the many events that happened of significance during the month of September. Ever present, however, since its inception in 1777, was the symbol of our Nation’s strength and unity – our American Flag.
This symbol of freedom has imbedded itself in our memories through pictures – raising the American flag at Iwo Jima, Buzz Aldrin and the first moon landing, government and civilian locations and businesses throughout the U.S., and some of us even remember the flag being in all the classrooms in school. Accompanying the presentation of the flag is frequently our National Anthem, also known as The Star-Spangled Banner.
September 13, 2014, marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner. Francis Scott Key was aboard a ship in Baltimore Harbor as the British attacked Fort McHenry. “It seemed as though mother earth had opened and was vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone,” Key wrote later. But when darkness arrived, Key saw only red erupting in the night sky. Given the scale of the attack, 25 hours of brutal pounding upon the fort by British forces, Key was sure the British would win. The hours passed slowly, but in the clearing smoke of “the dawn’s early light” on September 14, he saw the American Flag—not the British Union Jack—flying over the fort, announcing an American victory.
While still on the ship, Key put his thoughts on paper and set his words to the tune of a popular English song. His brother-in-law was a commander of a militia at Fort McHenry, read Key’s work and had it distributed under the name “Defence of Fort McHenry.” The Baltimore Patriot newspaper soon printed it, and within weeks, Key’s poem, was now immortalized in words, calling it “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and appearing in print across the country, forever naming the flag it celebrated.
In 1996 the “Star-Spangled Banner Preservation Project” was launched. Its mission was to preserve the original flag that flew over Fort McHenry as Francis Scott Key wrote the words which became our National Anthem. The incredible story of how this flag has survived and plans for its preservation from that date in 1914 to 200 years later can be read at the following link. I highly recommend it.