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The Defence of Fort McHenry

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D.C. lawyer Francis Scott Key's name appears in many of the reports of early decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.  He is not best known for his legal briefs, though.  Two hundred years ago today, he witnessed his countrymen's valiant defense of Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, from a British naval bombardment.  Morale had sunk after the burning of Washington and the White House, and the successful defense was a badly needed inspiration.  Key wrote a poem called The Defence of Fort McHenry.  Later set to music, it is now known as The Star Spangled Banner.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
The Wikipedia page has an interesting historical note I did not know about.  At the beginning of the Civil War, Oliver Wendall Holmes, Sr. added a fifth stanza "which appeared in songbooks of the era."

When our land is illumined with liberty's smile,
If a foe from within strikes a blow at her glory,
Down, down with the traitor that tries to defile
The flag of the stars, and the page of her story!
By the millions unchained,
Who their birthright have gained
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave,
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.

Update:  Mark Puente has this story in the Baltimore Sun on the bicentennial observance.

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