Nowadays, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is commonly played before most major and minor sporting events and when an athlete from the U.S. wins a medal in the Olympics.
Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-2895.
Long May It Wave
“The Star-Spangled Banner” becomes the national anthem
On this March day, President Herbert Hoover signed a law officially designating this song as our national anthem. But let’s back up more than 100 years to tell the whole story.
The poem that gave rise to the song was written by Francis Scott Key as he observed—with much anxiety—the bombardment of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry in 1814 by the British navy. Key’s poem about the American flag that “yet waved” after the attack was printed in several newspapers.
Later, it was set to a popular melody by (ironically) a British composer named John Stafford Smith. The subsequent song became very popular and was frequently played at public events like parades. Also, soldiers in the U.S. Army and other members of the military often played it each time the flag was raised and lowered.