Among the most stirring portions of our Star Spangled Banner, these lines written so eloquently by Francis Scott Key evokes the spirit of Independence Day. The words and imagery represent a time in our history when the experiment known as the United States of America found a young nation still struggling for its identity on the world stage.
While July 4, 1776, serves as our Independence Day, Key's "Defence of Fort McHenry" which served as the basis for our national anthem came to be after the young lawyer, imprisoned abroad a ship in the harbor, witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.
While so many of us are familiar with the American Revolution, many historians consider the War of 1812 the second war of independence against Great Britain. Just 30 years after becoming an independent nation, the young American forces on land and sea staved off three British invasions of New York, New Orleans and Baltimore, which is when Key first penned the lyrics which would become the basis for the national anthem.
In the ensuing years, The Star-Spangled Banner was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889, and by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. It was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931, and signed into law by President Herbert Hoover.
While fireworks on the Fourth of July are designed to entertain, to me, they also serve to provide a sense of inspiration as I consider those brave Americans fighting off an assault from what was then the most powerful naval force the world has ever seen. Over the years, the determination and fighting spirit brought to life by the Star Spangled Banner has never wavered and to see and hear the rockets' red glare bursting over towns and cities across our nation in triumph on July 4th remains an inspiration to generations of Americans.
Each playing of our national anthem provides us with an opportunity to celebrate our nation, whether it's before a baseball game or at a community event. It is as if, as Americans, we have an opportunity to celebrate the Fourth of July all throughout the year. The anthem is also a reminder that our country grew up during the second war of independence whose spirit was captured by a 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet named Francis Scott Key.