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The US Anthem, as sung in spanglish, seems to be mounting a political controversy. However...

Assuming that's a rhetorical question, let's move on to America where a young Washington attorney named Francis Scott Key sailed to the British fleet during the War of 1812 to obtain the release of a captured American. He was detained on a British ship and witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the night of Sept. 13-14, 1814. Under Major George Armistead's command, the fort withstood the attack, and the sight of the American flag flying at dawn inspired Key's verses, written on the way ashore the next morning.

In those times, folks often recycled good older melodies to use with new lyrics (for example, Maryland's state song uses the melody from "O Tannenbaum"), so no one minded that Scott Key used "To Anacreon in Heaven." Of course recycling melodies still happens today. Consider "The Barney Song," which uses the melody for "This Old Man." OK, so maybe you're not watching Barney so much anymore. How about Weird Al Yankovic's treasure chest of songs including "Smells like Nirvana" or "It's all about the Pentiums"? But even Weird Al knows, to recycle melodies today requires the use of finely-honed musical skills and the services of an excellent lawyer.

Key's lyrics circulated as a handbill, then were published in a Baltimore newspaper on Sept. 20, 1814. The song was designated the U.S. national anthem by executive order of President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Following a 20-year effort during which more than 40 bills were introduced to Congress, the order was finally confirmed by Congress in 1931.

More at the Straight Dope, full lyrics at Wiki.

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