America’s Musical Key

If you’ve always thought that the “The Star-Spangled Banner” sounded like poetry…

On this day in 1814, Francis Scott Key pens a poem which is later set to music and in 1931 becomes America’s national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The poem, originally titled “The Defence of Fort McHenry,” was written after Key witnessed the Maryland fort being bombarded by the British during the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the sight of a lone U.S. flag still flying over Fort McHenry at daybreak, as reflected in the now-famous words of the “Star-Spangled Banner”: “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”

A perceptive observation, dream or random idea can alter the course of history and America has been sitting in the front row since the summer of 1776. When these lightning-in-a-bottle moments arrive without warning, people in all eras have proven to be quite receptive. This is what makes Francis Scott Key’s poem so remarkable. Mr. Key wasn’t hired to write poetry in that war zone, yet he saw something nobody had before. Forgive me if the following sentiment reads like a bit of a hyperbolic stretch, but perhaps Mr. Key, like everyone else, was familiar with the language of America’s declared independence, but he was the first to see the resonance of those words off paper via the lone flag flying after a battle of life and death.

At this point in American history (and world history), the future of the United States of America was unknown. The American experiment, as it continues to evolve today and tomorrow, was just that at its inception and sequential decades thereafter, including the War of 1812. More accurately, less was known and understood about “America” during the late 18th century because these supremely radical ideas were only beginning to be molded into a stunning reality.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” is relevant due to the circumstances of how and why the lyrics came to be. And, at this country’s crossroads of sheer existence early in the 19th century, America’s purpose was realized within the smoke and fire of battle through a uniting anthem.

That anthem rocks to this day.

Fun Fact: I am, as surreal as it reads, related to the aforementioned Francis Scott Key.

Okay, let’s give this a shot:

My dad’s uncle (John Lentz) was married to Frances, whose grandfather’s brother was the grandfather of Francis Scott Key.

The lineage may not read like poetry, but it inspires pride in being an American all the same.


Posted on September 13, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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