9 Grammatical Pitfalls
"American flag," attested from 1782. Stars and Bars as a name for the Confederate flag is attested from 1863. Star-spangled is attested from 1590s; Star-Spangled Banner "United States flag" is 1814, from Francis Scott Key's poem (printed in the "Baltimore Patriot" Sept. 20).
The National Anthem of the United States. Francis Scott Key wrote the words during the War of 1812, when he saw the flag of the United States still flying over Fort McHenry, Maryland, after a night of attack by British troops. The tune is from a British popular song of the day. The first stanza is:
Oh, say, can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and home of the brave?