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Francis Scott Key wrote the national anthem in Baltimore in 1814, based on a battle he witnessed between American and British troops. The original song now on display at the Maryland Historical Society.
It's a little piece of paper, and the lyrics are pretty easy to read: "Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light..." Key penned the words at a tavern almost 200 years ago.
"It is one of our foundations of our national spirit, our national understanding of ourselves," says the historical society's director, Burt Kummerow. "You can't possibly go through a childhood without hearing this song over and over again. And here it is, this is the moment when it was created."
Kummerow wants to take the document on the road for the bicentennial.
"It would be wonderful to put this together for a special exhibit with the Star-Spangled Banner itself, the flag, down at the Smithsonian," he says.
Buzz over the National Anthem appears to be growing. An early edition of Star-Spangled Banner sheet music sold at auction on Friday for $500,000.