Real Men Write Poetry

On this day in history, Sept 13, 1814, Francis Scott Key scribbled the Star Spangled Banner on the back of a letter he had in his pocket.

I’ve always loved the American National Anthem. I can’t listen to it without blinking back tears. First, because I love this country, but also because I can’t help but imagine the depth of emotion that Key must have felt when the morning light showed that our flag still flew over Fort McHenry. Anyone who’s ever really paid attention to the words has to admit they are incredibly descriptive.

O say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,…

By the way, the poem, originally titled Defence of Fort McHenry, holds far more verses than we usually hear at sporting and patriotic events. For a real treat, here’s a YouTube video of a Marine singing the fourth verse.


But, back to my point about real men writing poetry…

In my woefully inadequate history lessons, I always learned that Key was a poet. No, he was a successful lawyer, and only an amateur poet. Not that it makes a huge difference, but give the man his due for writing such a great piece despite not being a professional poet.

The second question I had as a kid was, “What was Key doing on a British ship in the first place?”

Answer: He had gone aboard the ship to attempt to negotiate the release of a friend who had been captured by the British. (Definitely the action of a real man.) He was successful, but the British would not let him go until they completed their assault on the fort.

Here's a couple links for those of you who want more information:
This Day in History
Wikipedia: The Star Spangled Banner
Smithsonian: Star Spangled Banner (has a great image of the flag that flew over the Fort.)


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