National Anthem: Reflection on the Bicentennial of the Star Spangled Banner

By Sosamma Samuel-Burnett J.D.
Founder/President, G.L.O.B.A.L. Justice

When I was a high school student, I had the honor of being selected by the governor to represent my home state of Minnesota at the National Flag Day celebration in Washington, DC and Maryland.  That honor allowed me the opportunity to visit Baltimore and Fort McHenry for the first time.  The visit provided an overview of not only of our nation’s early history but also the context for our National Anthem. And it left me with a deep impression that lingers today.

The War of 1812-1814 marked one of the first major trials of the young United States of America and forced the new nation to determine its destiny in what many referred to as the second war of independence.  During the height of the battle, Francis Scott Key was sailing on a battle ship in an effort to gain return of an American prisoner.  On September 14, 1814, in Baltimore Harbor, he looked out of the ship’s window and observed a battle worn American flag being raised over Fort McHenry amidst cannon fire in the early morning light.  That image is what inspired him to pen what was he first called the Defense of Fort McHenry and would later be referred to as the Star Spangled Banner. The song, both in lyrics and tune, was adopted by various brigades and in the context of various battles and national challenges both during and after the War of 1812-1814.  Many years later, President Herbert Hoover officially made the Star Spangled Banner into the US National Anthem.

The Bicentennial of the Star Spangled Banner is not only a celebration of its enduring significance but a reflection of its remarkable history and symbolism.  It represents a  history of war and strife in the pursuit of national and international peace and security. And it remains a symbol of the land of the free and the home of the brave.  This history and this symbol not only resonates for Americans but also to others around the world who value the spirit and the principles behind this American anthem.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by G.L.O.B.A.L. Justice. We are a faith-based, nonpartisan organization that seeks to extend the conversation about justice with a posture of dignity and respect.