say, can you sing The Star-Spangled Banner? America's national anthem is undoubtedly one of the few that expresses its themes in the form of a question. From the opening line, (O say, can you see?) to the closing couplet (Does that star-spangled banner yet wave?) the song by Francis Scott Key manages to pose two questions central to our democracy. First, Key asks, will the American flag fly at dawn over Fort McHenry, after an important battle in the War of 1812? And lastly, almost 200 years later, does the flag still fly over a free nation? Although they think it's a difficult song to sing, most Americans don't know much about Francis Scott Key or how he came to write the Star-Spangled Banner. Now, just in time for Flag Day, New York Times reporter Irvin Molotsky has written a brief, informative history of Key's poem and the flag that inspired him. The Flag, the Poet ∧ the Song brims with fascinating trivia about the anthem and clarifies many of the myths about the song and the flag. If you slept through your American history classes on the War of 1812, you'll appreciate Molotsky's clear explanation of what caused the war and why it was important to our young nation. You'll learn why Key was on a mission of mercy that landed him near Fort McHenry on the night of the battle. And the next time you're at a baseball game, straining to hit the high notes of our unsingable anthem, you can rest assured that you know more about "the rocket's red glare" and "the bombs bursting in air" than anyone else in the stadium.

comments powered by Disqus