I was out at Fort McHenry, recently. (My sister was visiting and wanted to see it.) If you haven’t been to the fort yet, you really should go! They’re doing lots of special events because this September will be the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key writing the words for our national anthem.

Fort McHenry offers ranger talks, great exhibits, and a movie about the national anthem. My favorite part of the afternoon was the flag talk where we we able to unfurl and re-furl a replica of the garrison flag; the flag Key saw that September morning.

I’d never really thought about a lawyer sitting down and writing a poem. Out in the harbor. After a horrific battle. Turns out that Key was quite the poet.

Besides all the books I’ve been pointing to, The Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection has many¬†versions of our anthem – before it was even our anthem! It was often referred to as our “national air” until Congress made it our national anthem in 1931.


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