National Anthem Day on March 3 observes the songs nations around the world have adopted and chosen to represent their national identity. For America, that song is “The Star-Spangled Banner” and has a rich history to match the pomp and circumstance any national anthem should garner for the country it represents. Learn all about the fateful night which inspired our national anthem and find ways to celebrate it today.
No matter what nation you hail from, there’s a song that everyone knows, and that touches the heart of every member of your country from young to old. That song is your National Anthem, and it speaks of culture and history, and often the very identity of your nation. In many nations the song is song every morning by school children, and in places like America it is actually sung to open certain sporting events, especially American Football. National Anthem Day is here to celebrate the National Anthems of the world, from the obscure and forgotten to the ones that ring out every day.
History of National Anthem Day
The origin of National Anthem Day is actually in America, where Francis Scott Key wrote the anthem for that fledgling nation while Fort McHenry was under assault by British forces. He himself was in the bay on a military vessel, and saw the entire assault happen. It is from these events that some of the key imagery in the song originated, the ‘bombs bursting in air’. Of course, his time as a military man lent more to the tune itself, which was an old tavern song popular in the day.
Some nations, such as England, don’t actually have an official national anthem. Strange as this may seem, the people of the nation have adopted a song as their anthem. In the places where most national anthems would stand in, the song “God Save The Queen” is used, and that’s why you’ll hear it sung during sporting events and official events. Of course the UK is a tricky devil in this case, given that it actually comprises not one but three Kingdoms, and each has its own anthem of preference.
How to celebrate National Anthem Day
National Anthem Day is by far one of the easiest, and potentially the most fun, holidays to celebrate. It all starts at home, do the research to determine what your nation’s National Anthem is, and then take the time to learn all about it and its history. Find out how it’s sung and when, if there are any hidden verses that you may not know about (It’s customary in use for only the first one or two verses to be used, but both “God Save The Queen” and The American National Anthem contain verses not often sung.)
National Anthem day is your opportunity to learn a little bit more about your nation’s history, and perhaps to exhibit a little bit of pride in its history.
History of National Anthem Day
Let’s take a step back in time to the evening of September 13, 1812. Maryland attorney Francis Scott Key found himself aboard a British sea vessel negotiating the release of Dr. William Beans, a prisoner of war accused of misleading the British troops. While Key’s negotiation was successful, the British troops would not allow him to disembark the ship out of fear he may disclose the Brit’s battle plans to American forces.
So, Key and Beans remained on the ship through the night witnessing the intense attack on Fort McHenry. Expecting American troops to have lost the battle, Key was astounded to see the American flag flying over Fort McHenry the next morning. The events of the evening ending in the triumphant flying of the American flag inspired Key to write a poem that ultimately became “The Star-Spangled Banner”, our national anthem.
By the early 1900s, there were several different versions of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” so President Woodrow Wilson asked the Bureau of Education to standardize it making one official version. The Bureau hired five musicians, including John Philip Sousa, to standardize the song which was first performed on December 5, 1917.
Finally, on March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a congressional order into law making “The Star-Spangled Banner” America’s national anthem. National Anthem Day falls on March 3 annually commemorating the signing of the law.