Q123: What is the name of the national anthem?

The Star-Spangled Banner
Freedom from Tyranny
Pledge of Allegiance
America the Beautiful

Question Background Information


O! Say can you see by the dawn’s early light? What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

So begins The Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States, written by Francis Scott Key.

Key wrote the poem that became the “Star-Spangled Banner” during the British attack on Baltimore’s Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Key, being held prisoner by the British during the 1814 siege, saw the tattered flag still flying, indicating the Americans still held the fort. Key’s poem was later set to a popular tune and adapted to music, becoming a popular patriotic song—though not technically the national anthem until surprisingly recently.

Congress designated the Star-Spangled Banner the American national anthem in 1931.

Additional Content

Discussion Prompts


The national anthem commemorates the moment that Francis Scott Key saw the American flag flying over Ft. McHenry, signifying that the British did not win the battle. Inspired, he wrote the poem “Defense of Ft. M’Henry.” He put the poem to music and The Star-Spangled Banner was born. It became the national anthem in 1931.

Prompt 1 

The United States’ national anthem was written by Francis Scott Key in 1814.  What is the name of the national anthem?  What does the United States’ national anthem mean to you?  What do you think about when you hear, or sing, the lyrics? 

Prompt 2

We are so familiar with our national anthem that it may seem strange to ask this question, but what is a national anthem? Why do nations have them? What purpose does the United States’ national anthem serve? What ideas does it express? Use references to the national anthem’s lyrics, as well as current and past events, to support your opinion.