At 7 a.m. on the morning of September 13, 1814, the British began bombarding Fort Henry outside Baltimore, and the US flag was waiving at full mast as we met the enemy. The British bombardment continued for 25 hours straight. They fired over 1500 bombshells that weighed over 200 pounds apiece, and carried lighted fuses that were supposed to explode when they reached the target. But they weren’t reliable and many blew up in mid-air. The British fleet lit up the rainy night sky with grotesque fireworks.
Francis Scott Key was a prisoner, under the guard of British soldiers on his own vessel, where he witnessed the engagement. The British soldiers had informed him that all would be lost, as the fleet was too strong for Fort Henry to withstand. Francis simply bowed his head, and humbly stated,” In God is our trust”. Francis Scott Key watched the battle with cautious apprehension. He knew that as long as the shelling continued, the Americans had not surrendered. But shortly before dawn there came, there was a sudden and eerie silence. Francis Scott Key thought all was lost. What he not realized at the time, was that the British had failed and the attack had been abandoned. Britain had ordered a full retreat.
But as the evening darkness turned to morning light, Key saw the sight that would end all his fears; the great American flag, tattered and torn by war was still blowing in the breeze, our flag was still there! He began to yell at the top of his lungs to the prisoners below the desks, our flag is still there, our flag is still there!
He was but an unknown amateur poet, but he quickly grabbed a letter envelope from his back pocket, and wrote the words on the back of it to express his feelings at the time. When he discovered that the stars and stripes had not been destroyed, his feelings expressed the term “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which was referring to our flag. The words gained him fame for all time and later became known as our National Anthem. The words that he coined that early September morning, transformed the tattered garrison into a major national symbol of patriotism and identity.
The 4th Verse of “The Star Spangled Banner”:
Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just
And this be our motto, “In God is our trust”
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave
After finishing the writing of his poem, Francis Scott Key urged the United States of America to adopt the phrase, “In God is our Trust”, a phrase that was written in the 4th verse, to become the official motto of the United States. Francis Scott Key was a devout Christian, serving as the Vice President of the American Bible Society from 1817 until his death in 1843.
“The Star-Spangled Banner,” was first adopted as our American National Anthem, by Executive Order of President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and then by a Congressional resolution in 1931, signed by President Herbert Hoover.
It took a few years but the phrase “In God We Trust”, became the official motto of the United States by law in 1956, according to Francis Scott Keys wishes. These humble words of faith, written by a man under gunpoint of the enemy, are now the proclamation of this proud country, The United States of America.
In God We Trust is the official motto of these United States, every city, every town, and every state. And if you are a US citizen this is the motto of the country that you are a citizen of, BY LAW.
In the United States, the motto first appeared on a coin in 1864 shortly after Francis Scott Key’s death as it was adopted by the people who understood what it meant, long before it became the law of the land. But “In God We Trust “did not become the official U.S. national motto until after the passage of an Act of Congress in 1956. For all you atheists, and “God” haters out there, it is codified as federal law in the United States Code at 36 U.S.C. § 302 which provide: “‘In God we Trust’ is the national motto. Some atheists and activists have been known to cross out the motto on paper money as a form of protest. It is a crime to deface US currency.
A law was passed by the 84th United States Congress Public Law 84-851 and approved by the President on July 30, 1956. President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a joint resolution declaring “In God We Trust”, as the national motto of the United States.
Francis Scott Key’s words carried on into the 1950s, and began to multiply
- The phrase “under God“ was added to the then secular worded Pledge of Allegiance.
- “So help me God“ was added as a voluntary suffix to the oaths of office for federal justices and judges.
- There has been a widespread belief that every president since George Washington has said these words during his inauguration.
- All American paper currency since 1957 has included the motto “In God We Trust.”
“In God We Trust”…..We reflect on these words that guide millions of Americans, recognize the blessings of the Creator, and offer our thanks for His great gift of liberty.
From its earliest days of existence, the United States has been a Nation of faith. During the War of 1812, as morning light broke the fears that the evenings bombardment had brought , the tattered and torn American flag still flew above Fort McHenry, which led Francis Scott Key to write the words down, that his heart had believed in faith; “And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!’ These words became our National Anthem. Let us remind ourselves now and for all generations to come, as Americans we should “Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.”
Today, our country stands strong as a beacon of religious freedom. Our citizens, whatever their faith or background, worship freely and millions answer the universal call to love their neighbor and serve a cause greater than self.
Let us stand in faith Francis Scott Key did, and as a people declare our National Motto; the words that formed this great nation, “In God We Trust”.
We should honor Francis Scott Key’s words and wishes, and the 4th verse of our National Anthem, that bears the words ”In God is our Trust” should be added with the 1st verse whenever The Star Spangled Banner is performed.
You can hear the 4th verse of the”Star Spangled Banner” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9_bP219ehQ&feature=topvideos