It is my humble opinion that singers should never attempt to upstage the reverence afforded to "The Star-Spangled Banner" with modern renditions of the song, vocal gymnastics, and outlandish style.
Performing the National Anthem in a traditional manner that pays utmost respect to the symbolism of "the land of the free and the home of the brave" honors all Americans. Although it must be very difficult to vocalize the challenging music, to me, the best singers of the anthem exhibit no ego, yet personalize their performances with honest, simple, heartfelt traditional deliveries that make no attempt to "rise above the song."
After all, voices attempting to immortalize themselves on the National Anthem are like balls of cotton compared to clouds. The reverse metaphor diminishes the power. Nothing as natural and grand as a cloud or "The Star-Spangled Banner" can be adequately interpreted and symbolized by a puff of twill or by flamboyant entertainers.
To me, whether the singer is a child or a senior citizen, a diva or a common Joe, makes little difference. I prefer to hear everyone who sings "The Star-Spangled" banner exude humble authenticity without personal pride.
The song has been sung throughout American history by multitudes as a folk song of patriotism meant to seal our common citizenship and to remind us of our duty to the free world. Despite attempts to add glitz and glamor to the National Anthem, the song representing the flag of the land where the blood of the brave has paid the price for freedom and justice. It is meant to inspire in reverence, not in frivolous celebration.
Enough of my serious, lecturing tone. I thought you might enjoy a quiz about the National Anthem. Try your luck. Answers are provided after the 20 question trivia test. Good luck and don't cheat.
The Quiz of "The Star-Spangled Banner"
1. ___ Ladies from Baltimore who actually sewed the flag that later become known as the Star-Spangled Banner were Mary Pickersgill, her daughter, her two nieces, and
a. Anna Ross, daughter of Betsy Ross
b. Mary's twelve-year-old son
c. an unnamed, indentured African-American servant
d. Jimmy "The Needle" Levi
2. ___ What were the last two states to join the Union before Pickersgill sewed the Star-Spangled banner?
a. Kentucky and Vermont
b. Ohio and Indiana
c. New Mexico and Arizona
d. the States of Confusion and Controversy
3. ___ For making the flag, Mary Pickersgill was paid
d. a dollar down and a dollar a week for life
4. ___ Fort McHenry was bombarded
a. by a French Fleet during the French-Indian War
b. by the British Royal Navy in the War of 1812
c. by the British Army in the Revolutionary War
d. by aliens during Orson Welles' broadcast of The War of the Worlds
5. ___ Why did the enemy set their sights on Baltimore and attack Fort McHenry?
a. Baltimore was one of America’s major seaports.
b. Baltimore was the capitol of Maryland
c. President Madison moved there after the White House was burned down.
d. They wanted to see baseball games in Camden Yard.
6. ___ Francis Scott Key, 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, witnessed the twenty-four hour bombardment of the fort while
a. on the ramparts at Fort McHenry
b. on an American vessel under British guard on Chesapeake Bay
c. a prisoner in a French enclosured.
d. on a CNN news special broadcast
7. ___ When Scott viewed the triumphant flag that had survived the bombardment of Fort McHenry, he saw a banner with
a. fifteen stars
b. twenty-two stars
c. forty-eight stars
d. Dancing With the Stars
8. ___ Key later said the bombardment "seemed as though mother earth had opened and was vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone." In fact, only weeks before the enemy had
a. taken control of New York City and New York Harbor
b. attacked Washington, D.C., burning the Capitol, the Treasury and the President's house
c. assassinated U.S. President William Henry Harrison
d. cut the hair from the heads of 120 American Whigs
9. ___ Francis Scott Key first wrote the lyrics of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in a poem titled
a. "The American Flag"
b. "The Dawn's Early Light"
c. "Defence of Fort McHenry"
d. "Jose, Can You See?"
10. ___ Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" with
a. one verse
b. two verses
c. four verses
d. ninety-nine and one-half verses
11. ___ Key set his poem to the tune of a popular British song composed by teenager John Stafford Smith titled
a. "The Anacreontic Song"
b. "Hail, Britannia"
c. "Britain, Star of the Continent"
d."The Beatles Are Coming"
12. ___ John Stafford Smith's original tune was considered
a. a drinking song
b. a mournful dirge
c. a patriotic song
d. a rap classic
13. ___ The song that served as a national anthem for most of the 19th century before the adoption of "The Star-Spangled Banner" was
a. "America the Beautiful"
b. "Oh, Shenandoah"
c. "Hail, Columbia"
d. "Born In the U.S.A."
14. ___ "The Star-Spangled Banner" was made the National Anthem of the United States by a congressional resolution in
15. ___ The actual first word of "The Star-Spangled Banner" as written in Key's poem is
16. ___ Singers often find "The Star-Spangled Banner" difficult to sing with its range of
a. one and a half octaves
b. two octaves
c. three octaves
d. uber-yodeling as referenced in Slim Whitman's "Indian Love Call
17. ___ Sometime before his death in 1818, Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead (of Fort McHenry fame) acquired the flag that was immortalized in Key’s poem as the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Over time, the family gave away pieces of their famous flag, but reserved the treasured fragments for veterans, government officials, and other honored citizens. Some pieces have been found and returned to the original flag.
One legend has it that the Armistead family gave Abraham Lincoln a piece that is still missing without a trace. That piece contained
a. the fifteenth star
b. rents by rockets
c. the fabric that secured the flag to the mast
d. a blood-stained image of Elvis
18. ___ New York stockbroker Eben Appleton inherited the Star-Spangled Banner upon his mother's death in 1878. In 1907 he lent the Star-Spangled Banner to the Smithsonian Institution, and in 1912 he converted the loan to a gift. What did Amelia Fowler do to the flag when the Smithsonian received it?
a. She designed a glass case for the flag
b. She sewed a linen lining to the back of the flag to support it for display
c. She cleaned the flag so it would look better once it was on permanent display
d. She bedazzled it with gold and silver trim.
19. ___ The original Star-Spangled Banner remain on view at Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building for nearly 50 years, except for two years during World War II, during which time it was housed in a government warehouse in Virginia, to be protected from possible bombing raids on the nation’s capital.
In 1964 the flag was moved to the new National Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History), where it was displayed in the central hall on the second floor. But by1994, museum officials recognized the need for further conservation, and in 1996 they began developing a plan to preserve the Star-Spangled Banner using modern, scientific conservation techniques.
In 1999, “Save America’s Treasures,” a wide-reaching Millennium preservation project initiated by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton required the flag to be moved from public view to a climate- and light-controlled conservation lab where it remains today.
Future plans include constructing a state-of-the-art flag chamber with a climate-controlled environment and low light levels, and displaying the flag at a shallow angle. All of these features will help preserve the flag for future generations. An opening date for the new gallery and an exhibition on the history of the Star-Spangled Banner and its significance to our nation
a. is set for 2076, the 300th anniversary of the the birth of America
b. has not yet been announced
c. is planned for September 14, 2014 -- the anniversary of Key's witness to the bombardment
d. will never be declared as Congress remains in deadlock and the government is closed
20. ___ Although a flag code was adopted by Congress in 1942 preventing any use of the flag that could be construed as disrespectful on the belief that the American flag “represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing," the U.S. Supreme Court struck down flag-protection laws in 1989 as
a. violations of reasonable searches and seizures
b. violations of having no law respecting an establishment of religion
c. violations of civil liberties and free speech
d. violations of flag football
Francis Scott Key (August 1, 1779 – January 11, 1843
1. C 2. A 3. A 4. B 5. A 6. B 7. A 8. B 9. C 10. C
11. A 12. A 13. C 14. B 15. C 16. A 17. A 18. B 19. B 20. C