Happy Birthday to the Star-Spangled Banner!
“You underestimate the will of the American people, Doctor.” He poked his finger in the air for emphasis. “When you push us, we push back. Hard. John Bull cannot bully America into surrendering now any more than you could forty years ago. Have you already forgotten the lesson of Fort McHenry?”
He rummaged in his desk and pulled out a tattered newspaper, much folded and creased.
“My mother sent this to me with the letters, a newspaper from home. A Mr. Key wrote a poem about the battle, titled ‘The Defence of Fort McHenry.’ Look here—‘the land of the free and the home of the brave.’ That’s America, Charley! I won’t ask you to drink to an American victory, but you won’t mind if I have a tot?”
David poured himself some rum while humming a tune. She listened, her head cocked to the side.
“I know that tune—I heard it in the inn where I waited to board the Lady Jane. It is ‘To Anacreon in Heaven,’ is it not? I recall the people who attempted to navigate its melody often failed miserably.”
“Maybe it’s a song best attempted while drinking for the full effect. But I’m told it is now popular in Baltimore with lyrics based on Mr. Key’s poem—‘And the rockets’ red glare…’”
Charley snickered as his voice strained through the notes. “That tune will never catch on, Captain. Certainly not the way you sing! Best you stick to sailing your ship.”
Charley's wrong, of course. The poem and song became a part of the American nation. Today it is still our much loved (if difficult to sing) national anthem celebrating the land of the free and the home of the brave! Happy birthday, Star-Spangled Banner!