Oh Say Can You See...
The Star Spangled Banner flag has 15 stripes and 15 stars, and it was this flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the beautiful Star-Spangled Banner lyrics. The two additional stars and stripes represent the entrance of Vermont and Kentucky into the Union.
Key was a witness to the 25 hour British attack on Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. When he finally saw the star spangled banner flag flying at dawn, Key was inspired to write the words to the Star Spangled Banner on the back of a letter. You can view a photograph of the original manuscript here here - courtesy of Virtualology.
A Congressional resolution that was signed on March 3rd, 1931 declared that the Star Spangled Banner song would be the official national anthem of the United States of America.
The fifteen stars on the Star Spangled Banner flag were arranged in vertical rows. Each row contains three stars. When the Star Spangled banner flag was introduced, it was still the practice to add both a stripe and a star with the induction of a new state.
One of the 15 stars on the original
Star Spangled Banner Flag was cut
out and given away in the 1800's.
More pieces are missing at the edges
due to people taking pieces as patriotic keepsakes
The Smithsonian Institute has a very nice, interactive photograph of the original flag.
You can zoom in and see some great details and learn some interesting trivia about this old American flag.
I've never heard a better rendition of the Star Spangled Banner than the one that Whitney Houston sang before the 1991 Superbowl. You can listen to that version in the video below.
The first stanza of the Star Spangled Banner song
is full of questions. These questions are answered
in the other stanzas, but they are rarely sung.
You can download many versions of the Star Spangled Banner song, by many different artists. I'm including a few of my favorites below. These are available on iTunes.
The one below has many patriotic songs - 100 Traditional Patriotic Music Favorites : Use for Military Ceremonies and Honors - Can Also Be Used As Ringtones.