|This is a copy of Francis Scott Key's original poem|
|This is a copy of the original broadsheet.|
The song grew in popularity and quickly became one of a number of patriotic songs that were used officially and unofficially by the United States. Different functions called for different patriotic songs but there was no national anthem. In the years after the First World War a movement arose to name a single, official song. Out of a number of popular anthem-like songs, The Star-Spangled Banner won and it was named the official anthem of the United States in a law signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1931.
It's a stirring song and here's one of the best renditions of it I've ever heard.
Disclosure time. Francis Scott Key was one of my ancestors, something I learned when I was in college. Every time I hear our national anthem I'm reminded that I am glad to be a citizen of this great country and I'm also reminded of the sacrifices made by my immediate ancestors. I'm proud of that song and it's pretty cool to be a descendant of the man who wrote it. Lovely though it is, there's another song I think sums up the promise and potential of the United States better than The Star-Spangled Banner does. That song of course is America The Beautiful.
America The Beautiful was written by Katherine Lee Bates in 1895 as a poem called Pike's Peak. It was set to music by Samuel A. Ward in 1910. Here's as stirring a version of it as I could find.
Regardless of the songs you sing today, happy Fourth of July and remember the people whose shoulders you stand on.