Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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During the War of 1812, attorney Francis Scott Key witnessed the 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry from a British troopship anchored some four miles away. He had boarded the ship to negotiate the release of an American civilian imprisoned by the British, and had been detained aboard as the bombardment began. On September 14, 1814, as the dawn’s early light revealed the U.S. flag flying over the fort, Key exultantly began scribbling on the back of a letter the initial verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which would become the American national anthem.

Key’s Manuscript

The U.S. National Anthem in a word-by-word visual score performed by OneRepublic.

Interpretation of The Star-Spangled Banner by OneRepublic

O say can you see,
O = tire / say = finger point / can = pop / you = Uncle Sam / see = face
by the dawn’s early light,
dawn = jogger / early = alarm clock / light = bulb
What so proudly we hail’d
proudly = baby / we = family, barn, Jeep / hail’d = cab
at the twilight’s last gleaming,
twilight’s = desert sunset / last = cookie / gleaming = Jeep hood
Whose broad stripes and bright stars
broad = Broadway street sign / stripes = referee / and = & / bright = blinding light / stars = Marilyn Monroe
through the perilous fight
through = snow / perilous = rocks / fight = pillow
O’er the ramparts we watch’d
ramparts = obstacle course / we watch’d = spectators
were so gallantly streaming?
gallantly = astronaut, firefighter / streaming = video
And the rocket’s red glare
rocket’s = boy, space shuttle / red = sneaker, skateboard / glare = reflecting lake
the bombs bursting in air,
bombs bursting = kids touching hands / in air = Jeep parachute airdrop
Gave proof through the night
Gave = father car keys son / proof = driver’s license / through = tunnel / night = Jeep, tent
that our flag was still there,
our flag = views of Old Glory / was = George Washington Bridge / still = barn in winter / there = Iwo Jima
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O = dust circle / say = Scrabble / does = graffiti / that = man / star-spangled = sparks / banner = football Wildcats / wave = driver, surfer
O’er the land of the free
land = desert landscape / free = skydive freefall
and the home of the brave?
home = baseball homerun / brave = law enforcement officers, military veteran

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