Star Spangled Banner March 3, 2021 - On this day in 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed “The Star-Spangled Banner” into law legislation on March 3 making it the nation’s official national anthem. Francis Scott Key (1779-1843) composed the poem on September 14, 2021 after witnessing the massive overnight British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor.
The harbor was a key assault during the War of 1812. Key, a lawyer, watched the siege while being detained aboard ship by British sailors. He penned the words after observing, with shock and awe, that the flag — with its 15 stars and 15 stripes — had survived the nearly 1,800-bomb assault.
A Baltimore newspaper published the patriotic lyrics, which had circulated as a handbill, a week after the bombardment. Key’s words were later set to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a popular English song. Throughout the 19th century, most branches of the U.S. armed forces and other groups regarded song as the national anthem.
But it took until 1916 for President Woodrow Wilson to sign an executive order formally designating the anthem’s status. All that remained was for Congress to pass an act confirming Wilson’s order and for Hoover to sign it. The tradition of performing the national anthem at sporting events began in World War II at major league baseball games.
Whenever the song is performed in public, the U.S. Code, under anthem protocol adopted in 1942, calls for members of the audience to face the American flag if one is displayed, remove their headgear and stand in an attitude of respectful attention.
On Feb. 26, 2008, the New York Philharmonic played “The Star-Spangled Banner” while on a visit to Pyongyang, North Korea. It is believed to be the first time that the U.S. national anthem was broadcast before a live audience throughout the reclusive Communist nation.
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