Saturday, September 13, 2014


September 13-14, 2014


Baltimore, Maryland (JFK+50) Two hundred years ago, September 14, 1814,  lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key* wrote a poem about the British attack on Fort McHenry which was eventually set to music and became the Star Spangled Banner.

The British attack on Fort McHenry began on September 13, 1814.  The bombardment of the American stronghold continued into the early morning hours of September 14th.

The British fleet drew back to beyond the range of McHenry's guns and although firing more than 1500 cannonballs in 27 hours did little damage.

The title of Key's poem, written after he witnessed the battle from a truce ship positioned on the Patapsco River, is "The Defence of Fort McHenry".

Mr. Key was inspired by seeing a large flag of the United States still flying over the fort "by the dawn's early light".

"The Defence of Fort McHenry" was published in the Patriot on September 20, 1814.

The poem was later set to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven"  by John Stafford Smith.   It then became "The Star Spangled Banner" and in 1931 it was officially proclaimed "Our National Anthem".

September 14, 2014 is the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key's work.

Flag at Fort Moultrie
Sullivan's Island, SC
Photo by John White (2014)

*Francis Scott Key (1779-1843) was born in Frederick County, Maryland.  His father, John Ross Key, was an officer in the Continental Army.  

Key studied law at St. John's College in Annapolis and became associated with both the American Bible Society and the American Colonization Society.

FSK served as United States District Attorney 1833-1844.  In 1835, he prosecuted Richard Lawrence for his attempt on the life of President Andrew Jackson.

Francis Scott Key Park
Georgetown, District of Columbia
Photo by John White (2011)

The Star Spangled Banner has four stanzas although it is only the first one that is usually sung.

Here is the fourth and final stanza...

"O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv'd us as a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause is just
And this be our motto - "In God is our trust."
And the star spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy issued a "Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies" on the topic of employment of the mentally retarded 51 years ago, September 13, 1963.

In the memorandum, JFK wrote...

"On the basis of exploratory work which the Civil Service Commission has undertaken, it is issuing a 2 year special authority to make excepted appointments of mentally handicapped persons to Federal positions.

Use of this authority by Federal departments and agencies will greatly facilitate the development of standards and selection procedures for a continuing program which will make it possible for such persons to be fully utilized in appropriate positions in the Federal work force.

I have directed the Chairman of the Commission to report to me from time to time on the progress of their efforts and the consequences of agency experience."


"Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States:  John F. Kennedy, 1963," United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1964.