Our nation’s anthem still rings true

Published 6:11 pm Monday, July 3, 2023

An Editorial Opinion of The Greenville Advocate

The U.S. Congress officially adopted “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the nation’s anthem in 1931, more than a hundred years after citizens began using the four-stanza song to express their love of country musical form.

The song’s melody is believed to originate from a melody commonly heard in a London men’s club in the late 1770s. Patriotic lyrics were penned by Francis Scott Key after watching British soldiers attack Fort McHenry, Maryland in 1814. 

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The song became a popular, powerful expression of national patriotism, with it’s endearing description of the new nation’s flag.

“Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,

What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous flight 

O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bomb 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?”

The anthem stirred the hearts of new Americans as they fought to gain their freedom from Great Britain. Through the last 247 years, the song has endured as a symbol of that freedom, a beacon which still stirs the hearts of Americans who stand, remove their cap, place their hand over their heart, and sing the words performed before every high school sporting event.

As children, most Americans learned the anthem in grammar school.

Early Americans reflected on the words, and few could listen without recalling the hard-fought battles that bought them the freedom to sing it out proudly. The fourth stanza, less familiar than the first, is still relevant today as citizens look back on the many brave men and women who fought and died to retain their country’s freedom.

The Greenville Newspapers, Inc. staff wishes you a safe and happy Fourth of July. As you observe the day dedicated to the fight for freedom, reflect on the words Key penned so long ago.

“O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand

Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!

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

And this be our motto—“In God is our Trust,”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”