Thursday, September 15, 2011

Musically this was a historic week in American History.

Does September 14th ring any bells for you? Does this date sound like a very important date to you? September 14th is a great, country defining date in American history. However, many people are not familiar with its significance in our past.

The war of 1812 had broken out in the colonies and we were in the midst of a great battle with England over our declaration to become the rulers of our own free country. The battle raged on for a couple years, and on September 13th, two men set out to meet some British Brass to work out a deal for the mutual release of American and British soldiers. Negotiations went well, or so it seemed and the release of American prisoners was apparent. However, the statement was made that after that night, England would rule over the new colonies and the prisoners would be released anyway and would serve the British government. In order to ensure success, the entire British fleet was on the horizon and approaching Fort McHenry.

In response to this information, one of the negotiators stated that they couldn’t do that…it was primarily a civilian fort. The answer came back that all the Americans would have to do was lower the American flag and swear allegiance to England. As soon as the flag came down and was no longer visible, the shelling would stop and the assault would be over.

That night, Francis Scott Key stood on the deck of the ship and watched the ramparts of the fort being pummeled by rockets and bombs. He had to answer many constant questions from the men below the decks…”Is it there?” “Is the Flag still there?” Key would watch as the bombs exploded in the air and lit up the sky, and he would answer back that yes it was still there. The same banner that was there when it was turning dark was still flying during the middle of the night. When morning came and the guns had ceased, the questions were still coming. “By the light of the dawn, is our flag still flying over the ramparts?” “Is the American flag still there?” Key’s answer was yes.

On that day, September 14th, 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote about his experience through the long night before in the form of a poem. The poem he wrote was titled “The Defense of Fort McHenry”. Key had intended for the words to fit the rhythms of a well-known song of the time “To Anacreon in Heaven”.

Many years later, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson made an attempt to adopt this song as our National Anthem. Then in 1931, with the signature of President Herbert Hoover, a Congressional resolution was passed that officially named the “Star Spangled Banner” as the National Anthem of the United States of America.

his short history lesson through music will be shared with many of your students in my music class. It is a part of our history that is relevant even to our students today as they attend sporting and other events where our National Anthem is played at the onset event. It is my intention that with this knowledge they will have an understanding of the words that they hear and sing on such a regular basis and gives the song more of a personal meaning for them each as well.

Did you remember September 14th?


Post a Comment