By | 02 Mar 2023 at 11:31 PM
National Anthem Day 2023: Date, History, Facts, Activities

National Anthem Day, observed on March 3, honours the songs that nations have adopted and selected to represent their national identity. This song is “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the United States, and its history matches the pomp and circumstance any national anthem should inspire for the nation it represents. Learn everything there is to know about the fateful night that inspired our national anthem and discover ways to celebrate it today.

The background of National Anthem Day

Let’s rewind to the evening of September 13, 1812, shall we? Francis Scott Key, a lawyer from Maryland, boarded a British ship to negotiate the release of Dr. William Beans, a prisoner of war accused of misleading British troops. Despite the success of Key’s negotiations, British troops refused to allow him to disembark for fear he would reveal the British’s battle plans to American forces.

So, Key and Beans spent the night aboard the ship, observing the intense assault on Fort McHenry. Key was astonished to see the American flag flying over Fort McHenry the next morning, as he anticipated that American forces had lost the battle. The events of the evening, which culminated in the triumphant display of the American flag, inspired Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem.

Early in the 20th century, there were multiple versions of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” so President Woodrow Wilson requested that the Bureau of Education create a standardised version. The Bureau hired five musicians, including John Philip Sousa, to standardise the song that was performed for the first time on December 5, 1917.

On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a congressional order making “The Star-Spangled Banner” the national anthem of the United States. National Anthem Day is observed annually on March 3 to commemorate the signing of the law.

In 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem at football games as a form of protest, sparking new debates over whether this is an appropriate form of social protest or an unpatriotic act.

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Study the lyrics

Sporting events are more enjoyable if you can sing along, or at least lip-sync, with your fellow Americans, and you may even be spotted on television or a jumbotron; however, it is only fitting that Americans know the words to our National Anthem.

The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail is worth a visit.

This 560 mile trail connects historical sites across Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, noting key events that led to the Battle of Baltimore, which inspired Key to write our national anthem.

Exhibit the Star-Spangled Banner.

If you do not already fly your American flag throughout the year, take this opportunity to do so and explain the significance of today to your friends, family, and neighbours.


There was much controversy surrounding the selection of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as our national anthem due to the widespread belief that the melody’s excessive range makes it unsingable.

The flag Keys observed flying after the battle was a garrison flag, specifically the Great Garrison Flag, which consisted of 15 stripes and 15 stars and was flown on Sundays, holidays, and other special occasions.

Before becoming “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem was known as “Defense of Fort M’Henry.”

Although typically only the first verse is sung at events, the original song contains four verses, and a fifth verse was added 47 years later.

In 1969, Jimi Hendrix performed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and over the next two years, he performed it an additional 60 times.


Year Date Day
2023 March 3 Friday
2024 March 3 Sunday
2025 March 3 Monday
2026 March 3 Tuesday
2027 March 3 Wednesday