O say, do you know the words?

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 15, 2006

Thursday marked the 192nd anniversary of the writing of &8220;The Star-Spangled Banner&8221; and the 75th anniversary of the song becoming America&8217;s national anthem.

We all heard the story way back when in school. The song of our nation was penned by Washington attorney Francis Scott Key at a dramatic moment during the War of 1812. On the night of Sept. 13, 1814, Key watched as our country was attacked by the British navy at Fort McHenry. After watching the rockets&8217; red glare and bombs bursting in air throughout the night, dawn broke. Key was expecting to find Baltimore firmly under British control, but was stunned to see a battered but still flying American flag waving in the sunrise. So inspired was Key that he wrote the poem,

&8220;The Star-Spangled Banner.&8221; Set to a tune attributed to John Stafford Smith, &8220;To Anacreon in Heaven,&8221; it became America’s national anthem in 1931.

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A recent Harris poll found that two out of three American adults don&8217;t know all of the words to &8220;The Star-Spangled Banner&8221; &8212; and many don&8217;t even know which song is our national anthem or why it was written. But where did the people who do know the words say they learned &8220;The Star-Spangled Banner&8221; and other patriotic music? At school.

The members of the National Association for Music Education &8212; our nation&8217;s music teachers &045; want all Americans to know our national anthem and to take pride in singing it together. They launched the National Anthem Project to raise awareness about the importance of supporting and funding school music programs. The project culminated Thursday &8212; the anniversary &8212; and at Albert Lea High School during choir, and in other districts schools as well as at all athletic events, the anthem was sung.

We applaud our local music teachers for taking on this initiative and educating our young people &8212; whether for the first time or as a review lesson &8212; on the words to our anthem and how it came to be.

It&8217;s something we all should know &8212; as citizens.