Sung before almost every sporting event in the nation, The Star-Spangled Banner has stirring lyrics and a powerful melody. But many Americans don’t actually know the words or the historic events that inspired them. To commemorate the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s iconic song, Smithsonian Channel will premiere A STAR-SPANGLED STORY: BATTLE FOR AMERICA, an original one-hour documentary revealing the story surrounding America’s National Anthem, on Saturday, June 14 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Two hundred years ago, America was a young nation battling the British Empire in a conflict known as the War of 1812. By late summer 1814, the fate of the entire country hung in the balance. Washington was in flames. The President and Congress had fled the city, the American army had collapsed, and conquering troops were burning the nation’s capital. But out of this catastrophic time was born an inspiration and rallying song recognized by every: The Star-Spangled Banner.
A STAR-SPANGLED STORY: BATTLE FOR AMERICA explores the bicentennial of the National Anthem and the battle that inspired it, combining interviews with leading historians, conservators, and soprano superstar Renée Fleming, who sang the anthem at the 2014 Super Bowl. Experts explain why the song is so unique and what the individual lyrics mean to them. Historians reveal the story behind the War of 1812 and shed light on the divisive war whose outcome was vital to the fate of America. This special also includes historical re-enactments, 3-D computer graphics, hands-on demonstrations, and behind-the-scenes tours of the Smithsonian’s extraordinary collection of artifacts to unlock the forgotten story of a time when the future of America was on the line.
A STAR-SPANGLED STORY: BATTLE FOR AMERICA gives viewers exclusive access inside the sealed chamber that houses the flag Francis Scott Key named the Star-Spangled Banner. Beginning in 1998 a decade-long conservation project stabilized the wool and cotton textile and removed harmful dirt and debris from the face of the flag. The flag is now on exhibit in a custom-built, low-oxygen chamber at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and Smithsonian Channel cameras were there when it was examined for the first time since it was sealed inside this chamber in 2008. The Smithsonian has been home to the flag for more than 100 years.
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