Glorious Americana

See if you can identify the verses of our country from the stories behind them:

1. It was written in 1892 to honor Columbus Day and was intended to be a one-time recitation. Its popularity among teachers and children, though, made it an annual holiday tradition and then a daily classroom ritual. In 1954, President Eisenhower added, 'under God.'

2. America acquired its own song after winning independence from England - but the tune is from an English tavern ballad! Francis Scott Key wrote 'The Defense of Fort McHenry,' inspired by a fiery battle in the War of 1812. The poem (written on the back of an envelope) was a hit and quickly became our national anthem.

3. New England poet Katherine Lee Bates completed a poem from Pike's Peak in Colorado that almost became our national anthem. It was from there in 1890 that she saw 'spacious skies.'


(1) The Pledge of Allegiance, 1892; (2) 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' 1814; (3) 'America the Beautiful,' 1895.

SOURCES: 'Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things,' by Charles Panati; 'Myth Information,' by J. Allen Varasdi.

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