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'Star Spangled Banner' sheet music
'Star Spangled Banner' sheet music

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Second War of American Independence
On the morning of September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key was moved to write a poem that began "O, say can you see...?" while he was held aboard a British ship that had bombed Baltimore's Fort McHenry through the night. He couldn't believe that the fort's flag was still flying. Key thought his poem should be sung to an English melody called "To Anacreon in Heaven."

After the war, the poem and music were united and published first in Philadelphia as the "Star Spangled Banner," which was then played on patriotic occasions. In 1889, the secretary of the Navy ordered the song to be played each time the flag was raised.

Congress didn't pass a law making the "Star Spangled Banner" the national anthem until 1931.

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