A Birthday Tribute

Monday, July 4, 2011

During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key stood on the deck of a ship in Baltimore Harbor while the British bombarded Fort McHenry. All that night, Key strained to see if the American flag still flew over the fort, but he didn't know the outcome of the battle until dawn. That's when he wrote "Defense of Fort McHenry," which was later set to music and renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner." You probably have the first verse memorized, but have you heard or do you remember the other three?

In honor of our country's birthday, here are all four stanzas.

     Oh say can you see by the dawn's early light
     What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
     Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
     O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
     And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
     Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
     Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
     O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

     On the shore, dimply seen through the mists of the deep,
     Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
     What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
     As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
     Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
     In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
     'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
     O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

     And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
     That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
     A home and a country should leave us no more!
     Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
     No refuge could save the hireling and slave
     From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
     And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
     O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

     Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
     Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
     Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
     Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
     Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
     And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
     And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
     O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

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