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Lesson Plan 8-3: Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

Becoming the Anthem

Whether it is played at a baseball game or during a solemn ceremony, The Star-Spangled Banner brings crowds together for a moment of reflection. The powerful last line “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave” embraces the nation’s history as well as its promise for the future. Although the anthem may be the most familiar patriotic song about the United States, it is not the only one. In fact, prior to 1931, the nation had no official national anthem and debated which song best captured the American spirit. Why did Congress select this song over other patriotic songs to become the national anthem?

Music and history come together in this interdisciplinary lesson. Students will listen to and analyze popular patriotic songs. They will explore the relationship between music and patriotism as they research the history of these songs. Students will use multimedia resources to answer the question of why Congress selected The Star-Spangled Banner over the other patriotic songs. Students will also examine how music, images, and text can be combined to reflect a specific theme—such as unity, patriotism, or nationalism. The lesson culminates with multimedia presentations created by the students that reflect their interpretation of a patriotic song. In addition, extension activities provide students with the opportunity to write new lyrics to historical songs.

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