The Star-Spangled Banner: The Result of Observation, Creativity & Imagination

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The Star-Spangled Banner: The Result of Observation, Creativity & Imagination

As the country prepares to celebrate the birthday of its independence from England, the song that helps to inspire us is not “Happy Birthday,” of course, it’s the National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. Plight and hardship often spark innovation. For example, leading to the creation of The Star-Spangled Banner. 

Have you ever been a witness to an accident or something tragically memorable? Can you remember the details accurately? Since coronavirus (COVID-19) has challenged much of what we do, have you been able to implement creative and imaginative solutions?

The History Behind The Star-Spangled Banner

Our National Anthem was written as a four-stanza poem by a lawyer who watched an all-night “shock and awe” display that took place in September of 1814. Although the newly formed (and victorious) United States had signed a treaty with England less than thirty years earlier, the two countries were back at war again. A batch of English ships was looking to land troops in Baltimore; however, Fort McHenry stood in the way.

Francis Scott Key was negotiating a prisoner exchange on one of the English ships but was forced to remain on board when the ships suddenly gathered to attack the fort and invade the city. Consequently, he had a front-row seat to the bombardment.

His use of “rockets” has received some pushback over the years; however, Francis Scott Key was accurate in describing this new weapon. It seems that the English was impressed with the concept when it was used against them in India and a British engineer named Congreve perfected the design which was unveiled on this continent in Baltimore. This early form of a missile was the precursor to the ones used today and they gave off a trail, which led to the phrase, “rocket’s red glare.”

The fort withstood the ferocious bombardment and the huge American flag was indeed still flying in the morning as the British ships sailed away having failed in the attempt to take Baltimore. Francis Scott Key was let off his ship and he immediately began to write the poem, using the rhythm of an English drinking song as his metronome. The song is known as, “To Anacreon in Heaven” and the first stanza ends in a question—Does the flag still stand? The other stanzas answer the question, but we know the answer and stop the anthem with the question mark.

The Star-Spangled Banner Over the Years

Are you able to accurately observe and then recall? Can you be innovative and creative and make your

thoughts rhyme? How about coming up with a new way to perform the Anthem? My favorite creative versions are:

  • Whitney Houston – Super Bowl XXV
  • Jimi Hendrix – Woodstock
  • Grover Washington – 76ers games
  • Jose Feliciano – 1968 World Series

For the record, I first played the Anthem as a trombonist in a middle school band in the 1960’s. The band leader was one incredible person who loved writing marches. Tom Patton would always remind us that the National Anthem, “was not a funeral march.” Consequently, we played it quickly.

As our clients look to navigate in the post-COVID-19 world, they have asked us to find innovative and creative leaders, both on an interim and permanent retained basis to solve their most crucial challenges. A vaccine is not the only thing needed to save lives, our world needs talented healthcare professionals deployed in the right place at the right time and executive leaders who are equipped to navigate varying crisis scenarios.

For more information on our executive search and executive interim leadership services, contact our team of healthcare executive recruiters today.

Best wishes for a happy and safe Fourth of July from all of us at Tyler & Company.


Dennis Kain

Dennis J. Kain, MHA, FACHE, Senior Vice President, joined Tyler & Company in 2000. His career spans more than 40 years and includes extensive leadership experience in healthcare operations, hospital management and national consulting. His expertise working within provider settings, including serving as a hospital CEO, strengthens his understanding of the qualities, knowledge and vision needed in creating and leading a successful executive team. Dennis has conducted CEO, senior executive and physician executive searches for large health networks, academic medical centers, independent physician practices and community hospitals across the country. Read more.

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