The national anthem of the United States is the Star-Spangled Banner, and it is played and sung at the beginning of ceremonial events, conventions, sporting events, veterans events and other formal occasions. It became the National Anthem in 1931.
Francis Scott Key visited the British fleet in Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812. His purpose was to obtain the release of Dr. William Beanes, whom the British had captured after invading and burning Washington, D.C..
Key was successful in his mission, but was held anyway by the British overnight during the British shelling of Fort McHenry, which defended Baltimore. The British bombardment of the fort lasted a merciless 25 hours. The following morning, Key was thrilled to see a gargantuan American flag still flying despite the bombs, and he composed a poem in honor of that endurance.
He did not compose the music, which is not an original score. Instead, he simply suggested that his poem be sung to the familiar British tune, "To Anacreon in Heaven."
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that it be played at military and naval occasions, and in 1931 it became the official anthem.
On September 13, 2001, for the first time ever, the "Star-Spangled Banner" was played by order of Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in London, England, during the Changing of the Guard ceremony to pay tribute to those who died during the September 11, 2001 attacks. The following day, September 14, 2001, the Queen sang the American national anthem during England's memorial service for the victims, something she had not done before with it or any other national anthem.
- The Cactus Cuties - A stirring rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" by 5 little girls