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Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner after wittnessing the battle between America and Great Britain in September 1814. Francis watched the battle from a battle ship in the bay as British war ships attacked Fort McHenry in one of the fiercest battles of the American Revolution. Key watched throughout the night as bombs exploded, and sometimes he caught faint glempes of the American Flag that flew atop the ramparts of Fort McHenry. In the morning, when the fighting was over, Key looked for the flag. He knew that if the American Flag still flew that the British had been defeated. There in the faint light of the dawning day he saw the flag. It had eleven holes in it, but it still flew high over the fort as a symbol of both victory and freedom. He was so moved by the sight that he latter wrote the Star-Spangled Banner; America's National Athem.

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The Star-Spangled Banner

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,

O'er 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.

O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

 

On the shore, dimly 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, now conceals, now discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,

In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:

'Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 

And where is that band who so valiantly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion

A home and a country should leave us no more?

Their blood has wiped out their foul footstep's 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 homes and the war's desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."

And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Francis Scott Key (1779 - 1843)