From your own living room or backyard, beachside or wherever — at 3 p.m. June 14, you can stand up and join a worldwide singalong of America’s national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Not only can you add your individual voice, but you can list your June 14 porch or yard home, school or organization commemorative event to be displayed on a map on the Smithsonian Raise It Up! website. Just click on the “Join the Party” registration button.

Sponsored by the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian, the simultaneous national anthem singalong is the largest in American history.

A gala event staged in Washington, D.C., concomitant with the group vocals, celebrates Flag Day, as well as the 200th (bicentennial) of lawyer-poet Francis Scott Key’s (1779-1843) penning of the lilting lyrics.

“We want to make this the song heard around the world,” said Melinda Machado, the museum’s public affairs director.

Grammy Award-winning composer Eric Whitacre will conduct a 500-person choir singing another patriotic song “America the Beautiful.” Francisco J. Nunez will conduct “Lift Every Voice,” with the U.S. Air Force Band and Singing Sergeants.

The celebrity-studded festivity also marks the first time Key’s original manuscript, on temporary loan from the Maryland Historical Society, will be physically united with the actual 30-by-34-foot Star Spangled Banner flag, which inspired his lyrics — on permanent display at the National Museum of American History, free and open to the public.

The museum has invited American musicians across several genres to record new renditions of the national anthem and publicly share their thoughts and reflections about the flag and what it means to be an American.

Featured artists include opera singer Renee Fleming, whose long black gown, which she wore when singing the national anthem at the 2014 Super Bowl, also will go on display outside the flag exhibit through July 6.

Smithsonian event partners include National Park Service, Little League International, Girl Scout Council, National Civic League, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Macy’s Flagship Stores.

The evening of June 14, the Smithsonian Channel will debut a documentary on the iconic flag. The National Museum of American History website will feature archival Folkways records of traditional renditions of the anthem, which Key wrote to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven” by John Stafford Smith.

In September 1816, Key was in Baltimore harbor aboard a British ship, negotiating release of American prisoners captured in events surrounding the War of 1812.

Scott was witness as the British Navy attacked Fort McHenry in a ferocious cannon and rocket battle, which raged through the perilous night.

The Brits ran out of ammunition eventually and fled. As Key, a devoutly religious man, headed home the next morning, he wrote down with what joy he had seen America’s flag still billowing atop Fort McHenry.

“Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed, at the twilight’s last gleaming ...”


Online

 


The Star Spangled Banner

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 thru the perilous fight,

O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through 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 the home of the brave?

 

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,

Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,

What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,

As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,

In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:

‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

 

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,

A home and a country should leave us no more!

Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

 

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it 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!

Francis Scott Key

Janice Law is a columnist for The Daily News. Have a travel question? Email janice.law@galvnews.com.

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