President Herbert Hoover signed a bill to make “The Star-Spangled Banner” the official national anthem for the U.S. on March 3, 1931 — 88 years ago Sunday.
The bill was first introduced by Maryland Democratic Rep. John Linthicum in 1929, though the anthem had been recognized by the United States Navy in 1889 and by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, according to Politico.
“This country needs a national song to give expression to its patriotism,” Linthicum said, Politico reported.
The anthem was written by lawyer Francis Scott Key in 1814. Key was inspired by the American flag surviving the 1,800-bomb assault from the British at Fort McHenry, Maryland during the War of 1812.
Key was detained on a British ship at the time, according to History.
Key’s words were soon set to the tune of a popular English drinking song called, “To Anacreon in Heaven.”
Controversies have surrounded the anthem, however.
Some criticized Linthicum’s proposal because they felt the anthem’s connection with a drinking song was inappropriate.
They also questioned Linthicum’s motive, believing it was more about promoting the state’s history than about demonstrating patriotism, according to Politico.
Another point of contention is whether the third verse is racist due to some words and phrases used.
One argument is that the verse is meant to insult slaves, while another opinion is that it is meant to insult the British, National Review reported.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick is known for not standing during the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality against black individuals.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in 2016.
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