The Star Spangled Banner – a song born out of a battle - an American victory in 1814 that preserved the sovereignty of the young nation, the United States of America. Today, many Americans know little of the War of 1812, the significance of the Battle of Fort McHenry, and the meaning of the words we sing in the national anthem of the United States. If it were not for the tradition of playing The Star Spangled Banner prior to sports events, Americans would rarely hear or sing their country’s song of honor.
We, at Heal the Wounded Spirit, firmly stand on America’s faith-based
heritage and the revival of patriotism!
The meaning of blue Crocus logo is abuse not!
I’m Shelley G. Jones
Founder of Heal the Wounded Spirit
Presenter of The Star Spangled Banner History
Historian: Revolutionary War & War of 1812 Era
Member of the Daughters of the American Revolution
Designer of the Faith & Freedom Prayer Shawl
Survivor of Childhood Sexual and Spiritual Abuse
Author of healing of a violated spirit
Graduate of Hartford Hospital School of Nursing
The War of 1812 and the birth of America’s National Anthem
The Revolutionary War ended in 1781 - treaty with England was signed two years later. The United States, no longer protected by England, was a minor power in the eyes of other nations. American merchant ships, bearing the Stars & Stripes flag, were no match for British and French privateer ships who controlled the high sea and trade routes. England and France were at war – the need of able bodied men to replenish British fighting forces was an ongoing necessity.
England established a policy of stopping American ships and impressing thousands of American sailors into the Royal Navy. British authorities claimed these men were born in England and thus had the right to take them against their will.
Added to impressments of sailors, England was interfering with America’s
westward land expansion and blocking trade with foreign countries.
On June 18, 1812, President James Madison and the United States Congress
took an assertive stand and declared war against England –
the War of 1812 - or - The Second War of Independence.
At first, American forces won several battles. When the war between England
and France ended, the British Parliament sent numerous warships and
thousands of fighting men to America’s shores. The war began to turn in favor
of the British.
On August 24, 1814, British soldiers marched into Washington D. C. The
Royal Army, dressed in stunning red coats, set fire to the Capitol and other
government buildings. Citizens fled their homes. President Madison and his
wife, Dolly, escaped the city unharmed. The attack was a serious blow to the
spirit of American citizens and militia.
British soldiers then marched toward Baltimore, Maryland. Their intent was to
gain control of the strategic seaport and destroy the city. However, they hadn’t
planned on the resiliency of the American Militia and highly patriotic citizens of Baltimore. As a result, British soldiers, deterred by skirmishes with American forces outside of Baltimore and blocked from entering the city by a citizen-made protective dirt wall and hand-dug trench, had no choice but to wait until their powerful naval fleet captured Fort McHenry.
On September 13, 1814, sixteen British warships stretched across the Patapsco River in front of Fort McHenry. One thousand courageous American Militia and Baltimore citizens prepared to defend the fort against the massive fleet of enemy warships. The 25 hour bombardment that followed was intense. British cannons, more powerful than the American cannons, pounded the harbor and the fort from a safe distance while the American mortars fell into the harbor.
Rockets were a new invention. They created a fiery display but caused little damage as accuracy was limited. The real damage was the psychological pounding on the militia. Though outnumbered in fighting forces and cannon power, the Americans refused to strike the colors – refused to lower the Stars & Stripes in defeat.
Americans Francis Scott Key, John Skinner, and Dr. William Beanes
stood on the deck of a British warship – hostages and eyewitnesses to
the lengthy battle. As the sounds of war went silent in the dark of the
rain-soaked night, emotions overwhelmed. They understood full well that
defeat meant losing not only the battle, but very likely, the war. Anxiously
they waited for the rising of the sun. An unanswerable question burned in
Whose flag is flying above the fort?
The answer came “at dawn’s early light” on the morning of
September 14, 1814. As the smoke cleared, a strong gust of wind
unfurled a huge flag. The sight of the glorious Stars & Stripes came into
view through Francis Scott Key’s spyglass. Deeply inspired by the sight
of his country’s flag, Key penned the first verse of what we know today
as The Star Spangled Banner.
The Star Spangled Banner gained popularity as a patriotic song throughout the 1800s. It was especially popular during the Civil War (1861–1865). America was coming into its own. The writing of patriotic songs and music offered a way for people to express feelings, passion, and devotion for their homeland, the flag of freedom, and the strong ideals and values set forth by patriots of the 1700s.
By the 1890s, the Army and Navy required the playing of The Star Spangled Banner
at the raising and lowering of the Stars & Stripes Flag.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered the playing of The Stars Spangled Banner
at all official ceremonies.
By 1917 (World War I), the Army and Navy viewed the song as America’s National Anthem.
In 1918, while World War I raged in Europe, The Star Spangled Banner was played as the
Stars & Stripes flag was raised during the 1918 World Series. And thus a tradition of playing
the national anthem prior to sporting events was born.
On March 3, 1931, ten years before the United States entered World War II, President
Herbert Hoover signed a law making The Star Spangled Banner the official national anthem
of the United States of America.
Today, America is battling a different kind of war – a Moral, Ethical, Spiritual, and Cultural War. The United States of America bears deep woundedness – a woundedness that parallels the woundedness of being a survivor of abuse. There is much need for healing and prayer.
The Star Spangled Banner is protected by congressional act. But since 1990, when Supreme Court judges overturned the Flag Protection Act, the flag of which we sing has not been protected. Judges ruled that acts of desecration were protected by freedom of speech in the First Amendment.
On July 27, 2006, a constitutional amendment banning desecration of the American Flag failed in the Senate by one vote. To date, there is no federal law protecting the American Flag from assault, dishonor, abuse, or destruction.
Without congressional protection, the American Flag is vulnerable – an item (or victim) that can, and is being abused. As the flag of the United States of America bears the violation, the people of America bear the woundedness.
If America’s heritage is forgotten
and the singing of patriotic music goes silent,
and the Stars & Stripes becomes merely a cloth of bright colors,
will we be left anxiously standing in the dark –
just as Francis Scott Key and his friends
anxiously stood in the night? Will the
same question burn in our hearts as it did theirs -
whose flag is flying above the fort?