Originally created 01/18/06

O say, can you sing along?

COLUMBIA - Complete this phrase: "whose broad stripes and bright stars ..."

If you answered "were so gallantly streaming" or "gave proof through the night," you are, unfortunately, wrong.

But you're not alone.

Nearly two-thirds of American adults don't know the words to the national anthem, according to a Harris poll.

The National Anthem Project aims to change that by focusing on music education and finding fun ways to teach children, and adults, The Star-Spangled Banner.

The project was in Columbia this week as part of a national tour.

Most people first learn the anthem in music class, said Patti Foy, the vice president of the South Carolina Music Educators Association.

Yet music programs are threatened nationwide, she said.

"They're always endangered, every time there's budget cuts," Ms. Foy said.

The national anthem pays homage to personal freedom, said Inez Tenenbaum, the superintendent of the South Carolina Department of Education.

"In order to protect that freedom, we have to know that we fought for that freedom," she said. "And this song teaches us that."

On Monday, the project sponsored a concert and singing contest at EdVenture Museum. One contest winner from each state will be awarded $1,000 to be donated to his or her local music program and will be able to perform at a concert in Washington, D.C., next year.

On Tuesday, students sang and performed in front of the Capitol - usually the site, Ms. Foy noted, of Democrats and Republicans locked in heated debate.

"(But) one thing we have in common is our love for this country, and knowing our national anthem and being able to sing it all together, it brings us together," Ms. Foy said.

The National Anthem

The song that became the United States' national anthem was penned by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812. On the night of Sept. 13, 1814, he watched as the British navy attacked Fort McHenry. When dawn came, Key expected to find Baltimore in British control but instead saw the battered American flag still flying. Inspired, he wrote the poem The Star-Spangled Banner, which, set to a tune attributed to John Stafford Smith, became the American national anthem in 1931.

The Star-Spangled Banner

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.O say does that star-spangled banner yet waveO'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Source: The National Anthem Project


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