Born on this day in western Maryland, (1779–1843) Francis Scott Key was a Washington lawyer and writer best know for composing the words of The Star-Spangled Banner during the War of 1812.
"And this be our motto," he wrote. "In God is our trust!"
Inspired by the American flag flying proudly the morning after the vicious 25-hour bombing by the British of Baltimore's Fort McHenry, the amateur poet wrote the lyrics to the immortal anthem on the back of a letter.
"The Star Spangled Banner," said the Smithsonian Institution's Lawrence M. Small, "bears witness to America's indomitable spirit and underscores the historic resilience of our national character."
Set to the popular British melody To Anacreon in Heaven, the song shared national popularity with Yankee Doodle in the years before the Civil War. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered the song be played at military events. It became the official national anthem in 1931.
“Every wave of the flag is a pulse of history,” declared author Margaret Sedeen.
A celebration of hope and patriotism, Key's words soared with love of country and steadfast will to prevail over adversity. With liberty and justice for all, the song continues to inspire:
"Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!"
Let your pride unfurl