Happy September 13th

Barry Lenson

What happened on this day in history?

The Star-Spangled Banner

Okay, why are we wishing you Happy September 13th today? What happened on September 13th?

Glad you asked. You see, the famous Battle of Baltimore took place on September 13th and 14th, 1814. In that battle, heroic American patriots defended Fort McHenry in Baltimore against an attack by the British.

If you think you’ve never heard of the Battle of Baltimore, you’re wrong. You’ve been singing about it your whole life long because our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner” describes the battle.

Fascinating, right? Well, American history always is. And here is some more stuff you probably don’t know about Fort McHenry and our national anthem . . .

  • The “Star Spangled Banner” doesn’t have anything to do with the American Revolution. It describes an event that happened during the War of 1812.
  • The tattered American Flag that the Anthem describes survived and is kept at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
  • Frances Scott Key didn’t actually compose any music for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” He wrote a poem called “The Defense of Fort McHenry” that was later set to the tune of a popular British song called “The Anacreontic Song,” which was a song sung at the Anacreontic Society, a British men’s club.
  • The “Star-Spangled Banner” is harder to sing than just about any other national anthem, because it has a range of an octave and a half. That explains why people sing it in such low keys at baseball games. If they didn’t start so low, they’d never stand a chance of singing that high note at the end (“the land of the free”) and getting some cheers. And by the way, that nearly final note isn’t the highest one in the Anthem. There are two other notes that are just as high, sung earlier on the words “red glare.” So maybe you ought to applaud twice when people sing the anthem at the old ball game.
  • The first time the Anthem was sung at a baseball game was at the 1918 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. (The Sox won.) It was actually sung during the seventh-inning stretch. It wasn’t until the 1940s that it became customary to sing the Anthem before every baseball game.
  • “Take Me out to the Ballgame,” “God Bless America” and “The Mexican Hat Dance” are also performed at baseball games, but none of them is the National Anthem.

And Now for the Greatest Fact of All . . .

Fort McHenry is only a stone’s throw (or a bullet’s red glaring path) from StraighterLine’s offices in Baltimore Maryland.

We can easily walk to Fort McHenry, and that makes us proud. And it makes us feel good to write today about September 13th. If you take a minute to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” today, you are going to feel pretty good too.

Related Readings

Let’s Honor Historically Black Colleges and Universities during African American History Month
Back to School: Beat the Freshman Butterflies
It’s Not too Late to Go Back to School in September

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