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The Presidential Oath and  Song- Hail to the Chief &The United States National Anthem

National Anthem Learning Activity

The United States National Anthem

  The Star Spangled Banner at the Smithsonian Institution
          Just like the American flag reminds us of America and being American, songs can do the same thing. Some of these songs officially represent a country because of a law. These songs are called anthems. Other patriotic songs are not official but still remind people of a country.


From Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star-Spangled_Banner

          "The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defense of Fort McHenry",  a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis

 Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in the Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men's social club in London. "To Anacreon in Heaven" (or "The Anacreontic Song"), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. Set to Key's poem and renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner", it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one octave and one fifth (a semitone more than an octave and a half), it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the poem has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" was recognized for official use by the U.S. Navy in 1889, and by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931, which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom. "Hail, Columbia" served this purpose at official functions for most of the 19th century. "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", whose melody is identical to "God Save the Queen", the British national anthem, also served as a de facto anthem. Following the War of 1812 and subsequent American wars, other songs emerged to compete for popularity at public events, among them "The Star-Spangled Banner".

Anthems are Symbols

The words and sounds of the song have special meaning. Listen to a recording of America's national anthem and answer the following questions:
 1. What is the name of our National Anthem?
 2. Who wrote the song?
 3. What does the song remind you of?
 4. What story does the song tell?
 5. Why do you think this song is special?
 6.  What war was ongoing, when our National Anthem was written?  Where did this battle occur?  The words of the Anthem started out as a _________.  What did it start out as?
 7.  When viewing the Star Spangled Banner in the Smithsonian Institution, one can notice much damage.  How much of the damage was caused by cannon balls and how much by man's hands after the battle?  If any damage by man's hands, why would anyone do such to this ancient and valuable old flag?

Francis Scott Key looks out on the namesake of his poem, the Star-Spangled Banner

The Making of an Anthem:

You also need an anthem or official patriotic song. Think of a story you might want your song to tell. Think about the words your song would have?

Don't forget music. What kinds of instruments can you use? So it is easy for everyone to learn, many national anthems use the tune for old folk songs that everyone already knows. Then they add new words.

Think of a simple tune everyone knows. Write some new words for it as a class anthem. Of course, you may also write a new tune but keep it simple and easy to remember!

Smithsonian  Star Bangled Banner Project

National Park Service Fort McHenry-- Francis Scott Key

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