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5 things you might not know about 'The Star-Spangled Banner'

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There's a lot of interesting history behind our national anthem. (Shutterstock)

On March 3, 1931, Francis Scott Key's poem "The Star-Spangled Banner" was officially recognized as the United States' national anthem. Key first wrote his iconic poem after the battle at Fort McHenry on Sep. 13, 1814, but it didn't become the national anthem until over 100 years later.

Here are five fun facts that you may not know about the patriotic song:

When we sing it, we're actually singing a very British song


The tune comes from "To Anacreon In Heaven," a song that was commonly performed at a high-class social club in London. Francis Scott Key had set lyrics to the song before, but lyrics of "The Defense of Fort McHenry" (later retitled as "The Star-Spangled Banner") became the most associated with this music tune.

Even a British soldier was impressed by the flag

One of the seamen on a British ship during the bombardment of Fort McHenry saw the same flag as Key and admitted that it was a "superb and splendid ensign." It's no wonder they both noticed it: The American commander had ordered that a flag be raised that was large enough to be seen by the British.

You can thank the Red Sox and the Cubs when you sing it before a sporting event

Members of the military hold a giant American flag during the singing of the National Anthem on opening day for a game between the Colorado Rockies and the Chicago Cubs.


The history of the national anthem at sporting events is "murky," according to ESPN, but many trace its place as a commonplace tradition to the 1918 World Series in Chicago. During the seventh inning stretch, in a show of patriotism in the midst of World War I, the military band at the stadium began playing the national anthem. People spontaneously began to sing along, until the entire stadium was filled with song. The Cubs' administration was so moved by the moment that they made it a ritual.

Whitney Houston's version dominated the Billboard charts...twice

The singer astounded audiences with her rendition of the patriotic song at the 1991 Super Bowl. Her recording of the song peaked at number 20 on Billboard's Top 100, where it spent 11 weeks. A decade later, Houston's version was rereleased in the wake of 9/11 and spent another 16 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 6.


Another well-known singer of the anthem is Janine Stange, who has performed the anthem in all 50 states.

It got a cinema-worthy makeover in 2013

In honor of the song's 200th anniversary in 2013, the July 4 celebration on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol featured a brand new arrangement by composer John Williams. It must have been hard to breathe new life into the song while keeping its spirit. But if anyone could do it, it's the man who brought you the classic Jurassic Park and Star Wars themes.
Related Topics:
society distraction watercooler 4th of july music u.s. & world history

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