After the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key was so moved by the American victory over the British that he rewrote the words to a hearty English drinking song and came up with "The Star-Spangled Banner" to honor the fact that Americans thenceforth would have the guaranteed right to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" as if they had been drinking heartily (see videos, below).
Baltimore itself is commemorating the War of 1812 bicentennial in a big way, well beyond a mere salute to the National Anthem, with the Star-Spangled Sailabration, a week's worth of free patriotic events, June 13-19. Among the activities: An international flotilla of more than two dozen warships and tall ships; a Blue Angels air show; fireworks recalling the Fort McHenry battle; an aircraft display (and a chance to get the autographs of the Blue Angels pilots); and a newly written patriotic symphony at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.
Baltimore has more than 10 sites with direct ties to the War of 1812, including the Maryland Historical Society with its manuscript of Key's "Defence of Fort M'Henry" (later to become the National Anthem), the Fort McHenry National Monument itself, and the Flag House, the 1793 home of Mary Pickersgill, who made the flag—the storied star-spangled banner—that flew over Fort McHenry during the famous battle.
The Star-Spangled Sailabration is just the start of three years' worth of events related to the War of 1812. Go here for schedules and updates.
The 5 Worst Renditions, Ever, of 'The Star-Spangled Banner'
This cop should have been arrested and charged with impersonating a singer.
Who thought inviting Rosanne to sing the National Anthem was a good idea? No, seriously, I mean it: Who actually thought that?
Performers are usually taught that sometimes the singer should serve the song. Apparently Christina Aguilera was absent that day.
Butterbean seems none too pleased about this rendition, and you really don't want to tick off Butterbean.
"The Star-Spangled Banner" requires a vocal range of one and a half octaves. Steven Tyler, unfortunately, has a vocal range of one and a quarter octaves.
Now, to end on a high note, so to speak, enjoy this nearly perfect rendition. It's our National Anthem as it was meant to be. And it will give you chills.
Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter.