The United States celebrated its independence from the British this weekend on July 4th, though it’s national anthem was not made until almost 50 years later during the war in 1812. Here is how the song came to be, and the meaning behind it as explained by Dudley Rutherford.
“let me tell you the story behind the star-spangled banner
there was a young lawyer by the name of Francis Scott Key who lived in Baltimore
Maryland in the early eighteen hundreds at the time our nation was engaged in vicious conflict with Britain after the Revolutionary War the British had suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the United States and up until 1814 they had been on the defensive but in August 1814 determine not to be embarrassed again.
The British saw their opportunity to get on the offensive they exact their revenge by capturing our nation’s capital Washington DC, chasing President Madison and his wife from the city and burning many of our government buildings.
Then the British headed to Baltimore the nation’s third most populated city to attack a fort called Fort McHenry. Along the way Britain had accumulated prisoners and we know that some of the prisoners had been placed aboard those British warships one of the prisoners was a man named dr. William Beings.
Dr. Beane’s had many prominent friends and neighbors who enlisted the services. Of one francis scott key to negotiate with the British for his release. Francis Scott Key agreed and arrange to have Colonel John Skinner American agent for prisoner exchange accompany him on the appointed day the men rode out in a little boat and boarded a British ship to secure the release of Dr. Beane’s
After nearly a week of negotiations they were successful.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the British decided that they were first going to attack Fort Mchenry and that they wouldn’t release any prisoner until after the fort had been destroyed.
You see Fort Mchenry was a strategically located military base which was defended by a thousand men.
Tt stood on the end of a peninsula guarding the city of Baltimore and the British knew that the defeat of Fort McHenry and it’s thousand men would serve as another demoralizing event for the Americans.
So the plan of the British work Lee which included some 16 to 19 worships was to mercilessly fired their superior weapons and completely annihilate Fort McHenry, then the British could send in its lighter ships up into the harbor and begin to bombard the rest of Baltimore.
This is a critical moment in the history of our young nation for even though we had become a sovereign nation in 1776 the United States was still fighting for total independence from the British due to Britain’s interference and our expansion trade and other freedoms.
On September 13 1814 as morning dawned and as the haze hung over the ocean they’re british war fleet was unleashed boom boom boom boom for one hour two hours, five hours, 10 hours, boom boom the guns raged, the sound must have been deafening, boom boom boom for 12 hours, 15 hours, 20 hours, for 24 hours, the British pounded Fort McHenry relentlessly with no relief in sight.
The Americans inside Fort McHenry were unable to respond because their guns were not as powerful as the British artillery.
Witnessing the bombardment it must have looked like a spectacular fireworks display.
Francis Scott Key paced the ship all night long back and forth, at times he could see the American flag in the illuminated red glare of each bomb, no doubt if he had seen a white flag waving he would have known that the Americans were surrendering but as long as you could see the red white and blue flag waving he knew that the men inside that fort we’re not giving up. Don’t you believe that there had to be some prisoners on board some of those warships who are wondering is the flag still there, is the flag still there, is the flag still there, because you see that flag stood for the United States of America. It was that flag that stood for the freedoms that our nation cherishes today. It was that flag that stood for the men and women who died to give us our independence.
Well after more than 24 hours of constant bombardment finally there was silence and as morning dawned on September 14, 1814 when the heavy mist and the smoke from the gunfire had lifted their standing
proudly flying high above the rampart blowing back and forth in the wind was the huge 30-foot by 42-foot American flag. Major George Armistead, the commander of Fort McHenry, had commissioned a widow to make this flag he wanted it to be so large that the British wouldn’t have any trouble seeing it from the distance waving proudly.
Miraculously the damage to the fort was minimal of the 1,000 soldiers only four were killed, the United States did not yield and the British eventually withdrew from the Baltimore Harbor deeming the battle to be too costly.
The tide of the war was reversed there at the Battle of Fort McHenry just a few. Months later a peace treaty was signed between the United States and Britain it was upon the release of the prisoners that Francis Scott Key made his way back into baltimore and after such a dramatic and emotional occasion the young lawyer was inspired to pen the following words.
“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 through the
perilous fight or the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming and
the Rockets 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.”
It is my prayer that whenever we see the flag which represents the united states
of america and whenever we hear the words of the star-spangled banner as it
is song that we would stand and reverence for the miraculous events of
that night in 1814 to honor the courageous men and women who have fought
to keep our flag waving
may we always stand may we always remove our hats
you always place our hand over our hearts and may we always sing with all
of our heart as we give honor and respect to the flag and to those who
paid the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation of ours
the United States of America.”
Now I hope you understand why American’s take their flag and their country so seriously. God bless that wonderful nation and its wonderful people.