Did you ever wonder what inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the Star Spangled Banner? It’s a classic case of right place – right time. Francis Scott Key, a well-known lawyer in Washington D.C., was asked to help get Dr. William Beanes, a prominent physician, released from British capture. On September 5, Key, along with Colonel John Skinner, set out on a small vessel to meet the Royal Navy who had Dr. Beanes captive in the Chesapeake Bay. Key and Skinner were successful in releasing the prisoner, however the Royal Navy would not let them return to Baltimore until after the navy completed the bombardment of Fort McHenry.

Key, Skinner, and Beanes waited on a ship behind the British fleet and watched for 25 hours as the British bombed Fort McHenry. After the continuous bombing, the British gave up their attack and left. Key turned to the fort to see that the American flag was still flying high. Inspired, he wrote the words to a poem titled “Defence of Fort McHenry.” That poem was later set to music and renamed to “The Star Spangled Banner.” It was not until March 3, 1931 that it because our national anthem.