Washington "Oh say can you" remember the rest of the words?
A lot of Americans can't, so there's a national effort under way to get people to learn the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
"I don't even want to try to say it because I don't want to mess it up," said Sandy Sexton, 40, of Capitol Heights, Md., adding she has great respect for the song.
Called the National Anthem Project, various workshops, in-school programs and public-service announcements are geared toward instilling in people the significance of the national anthem and its role in U.S. history. An emphasis will be placed on learning the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
"We want to remind all Americans to cherish our national treasures and to celebrate our unity and our values in song," said John Mahlmann, executive director of the National Association for Music Education, an organization of music teachers from preschool to graduate school.
The association is leading the effort and getting help from a variety of musicians, organizations and lawmakers and first lady Laura Bush, who is serving as honorary chairperson.
The effort kicked off Thursday on the west lawn of the Capitol with a performance of the anthem led by The Oak Ridge Boys and hundreds of children.
Schools across the country will be taking part in the project, and special performances of the anthem will be held.
"I remember learning the anthem in elementary school," Sue Ellen Parrott, 64, of Potomac, Md., said after reciting the first verse of the song -- verbatim. "It's the same way you learn a language; when you're around it, you hear it, you say it and eventually it sticks."
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, was among those attending the kickoff. He said the project also sought to draw attention to the need to keep school music programs vibrant.
"Music is one of the easy things to eliminate because of budget cuts, but it's important to give kids the avenue to express themselves," Poe said. "We need to get kids singing about our history again."
Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the anthem during the War of 1812. On the night of Sept. 13, 1814, Key watched the British Navy attack Fort McHenry near Baltimore. Key was expecting to find Baltimore under British control the next day, but what he saw was a battered American flag still waving as the sun rose.
He wrote a poem, and the words were later put to a tune composed by John Stafford Smith. In 1931 President Hoover signed an act making the song the official national anthem.
|Here are the lyrics to the national anthem:O 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, through 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.O say does that star-spangled banner yet waveO'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?-- Words by Francis Scott Key, music by John Stafford Smith|