O say can you sing? The Smithsonian National Museum of American History asks that you belt out "The Star-Spangled Banner" in a nationwide singalong Saturday afternoon. June 14 is both Flag Day and part of the museum's celebration of the anthem's bicentennial. So gather your family and friends, sing out and tweet with the hashtag #raiseitup.
In September 1814, after witnessing a War of 1812 battle in Baltimore Harbor, lawyer Francis Scott Key wrote the poem "Defence of Fort M'Henry." It fit an English men's club tune, "The Anacreontic Song" by John Stafford Smith. This marriage of words and music became the U.S. national anthem by congressional action in 1931.
Saturday the D.C. museum is hosting its Raise It Up! Anthem for America Concert, which will be broadcast live online starting at 2:30 p.m. Eastern, with the national singalong at 4. To participate, find a gathering or register your own.
The D.C. event includes the United States Air Force Concert Band, The Singing Sergeants (the official chorus of the U.S. Air Force) and a chorus of 400 led by composer Eric Whitacre and MacArthur fellow Francisco J. Núñez. Key's original manuscript, on loan from the Maryland Historical Society, will be on display, along with the original flag celebrated in the anthem; so will the dress soprano Renee Fleming wore to sing the anthem at the most recent Super Bowl. The museum has also posted videos of artists from to Patty Griffin and Scott Miller to Phish and Pat Monahan of Train singing the anthem, as well as a solo by New Orleans trumpeter Kermit Ruffins.
So whether you're a fraction as powerful as Whitney Houston or Jennifer Hudson, as inventively soulful as Marvin Gaye or even shaky like Carl Lewis, please rise, remove your hat and lift your voice. And — with apologies to Key — just one verse will do.