It may be called the War of 1812, but the battle raged on long after the calendar turned.

The White House HIstorical Association has announced a summer-long commemoration of the Burning of Washing in 1814 that they hope will attract over 200,000 visitors to the capital city.

If you are one of them, be sure to see the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner and the war-torn flag that inspired the anthem which will be along the National Mall.

Reportedly there will also be a nationwide singing fo the national anthem in an attempt to set a new world record as well. For more information, check out this website!

And in the meantime, don't miss the concert a week from this Wednesday in Tedd Mann Hall in which both the Maroon and Gold campus bands will perform variations of the anthem and other key patriotic music over the years.

The University of Minnesota played an important - and little remembered - contribution to understanding some of the effects of war/starvation/malnutrition. As the Libraries' Shoah transcripts/interviews clearly show, WW2 Nazi atrocities included the imprisonment, starvation and killing of millions of peoples deemed unworthy of living - from people with disabilities to Jews, gypsies, GLBTQ and freedom fighters from various countries being overrun by the Axis countries.

Over 400 men volunteered to participate in the study in 1944 as an alternative to military service; of these, about 40 white males, ages 22 to 33 years old were finally selected; over half were members of historically peace churches (Society of Friends, Brethren and Mennonites). They were carefully monitored physically and psychologically in an effort to learn more about the body and mind under this type of distress. One of their key findings was that many of the profound social and psychological effects of these disorders may result from undernutrition, and recovery depends on physical re-nourishment as well as psychological treatment.

The Minnesota Starvation Experiment published a two-volume research report of the impact of the studies in 1950 and has been the subject of other research and books over the years. These volunteers and researchers work not only helped in the post-war efforts but are often cited even today in helping better understand such contemporary eating disorders.

Another interesting way in which the University of Minnesota helped in the war effort right here on campus. Our University Archives units have records, pictures, yearbooks and other key materials that cover the entire history of our university from the Civil War until today. You might want to check out their website here.

War-Time Conservation


One think that happens during a war is the need to redistribute the economy and society to conserve on the home-front and join the effort on the field of battle. The U.S. has a lot of experience at war (over 20 times in our history), but none galvanized the American people like World War 2.

Quoting the Library of Congress in their exhibit on the American homefront in the 1940s:

"War production propelled the United States out of a depression and into a boom economy. In 1944, American farms produced 324 million more bushels of wheat and 477 million more bushels of corn than in 1939.

By the end of the second World War, the U.S., with about 5 percent of the world's population, was producing half of the world's manufactured goods. But the economic shortages of the Great Depression were replaced during the war by government-enforced shortages of those goods. Consumers were issued ration cards to limit their purchases of groceries and gasoline. Factories that had made everything from automobiles to waffle irons were now producing war materiel exclusively."

The production of patriotic war movies, the employment of women and ethnic groups in positions once reserved for white men, WeCanDoIt.png the rise of Rosie the Riviter, the push to buy War Bonds, Victory Gardens.....Ask your grandparents for their stories of this critical time in our history.


Here are just a few movies about patriotism, war and America from the 1940s that you might want to check out from our Walter Smart Learning Center media collections:

Victory of Faith (Der Sieg des Glaubens) (1933)
historically the first documentary effort of one of the world's foremost documentarians,victory of faith.jpg Leni Riefenstaht, the film set the standard for Nazi propaganda films, Adolf Hitler, views of Nuremberg rally sites, Stormtroopers in their early uniforms...a look at Hitler's Germany as he wished it to be seen.

Why We Fight World War II - The Complete Series (1943)
During the war, to build support and patriotism, famed movie director Frank Capra and the why we fight.jpgUS Armed Forces collaborated on some U.S. propaganda type films as well. They may not be factually true given today's knowledge, but they reflect the feelings of hope and victory of the times.

World War II the Propaganda Battle (1988)
Bill Moyers and PBS take a look at the war of words, hearts & minds that was also fought during the WW2 years." This Bill Moyers program contains an interview with Fritz Hippler, chief filmmaker for the Nazi Party. Hippler unrepentantly claims to have spoken to the "soul of the masses" through films like The Eternal Jew, which asserted a righteous justification for genocide. Moyers also discusses America's response, which put a renowned filmmaker to work for the Allied cause--director Frank Capra, noted for his gentle, humane films about ordinary folk standing up to oppression."moyers.jpg

"In 1943, while the Allies are bombing Berlin and the Gestapo is purging the capital of Jews, a dangerous love affair blossoms between two women... the true story of this extraordinary relationship. The film was nominated for a 1999 Golden Globe Award and was Germany's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar."aimee.jpg

Casablanca (1942)
'Here's looking at you, kid.' Considered one of the best films of all time, this story of love lost and found again; duty and war is worth a watch.casablanca.jpg

Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
tora.jpgCovers events from the American and Japanese perspectives leading up to and including the Japanese aerial attack on the U.S. Naval base in pearl harbor on December 7, 1941.

War (2007)
Kens Burns tells the story of ordinary people in four quintessentially American towns - Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; and Luverne, Minnesota - and examines the ways in which the Second World War touched the lives of every family on every street in every town in America. burns.jpg

Mrs. Miniver (1942)
Brits had their own homefront stories and Mrs. Miniver which won 7 Oscars for its story of a middle-class British housewife whose strength holds her family together as World War II literally hits their

We have so much more...but we'd really rather hear about some of your favorite films of the '40s! What movie brings the war home for you?

This week MPR is running a series of reports, a "counterfactual history" of the first World War of nearly 100 years go - examining what our world would have been like without this "Great War."

They are asking experts for their thoughts on what our world would have been like, such as:

  • The Germany of the 1920s is not bled by the victorious and vindictive allies so the Nazis never come power. Europe would have been a more German-speaking continent.

  • Adolf Hitler -- an aspiring artist and vegetarian -- never goes to war and never enters politics. Instead, he becomes the manager of a company that produces alternative medicine.
  • Jews continue to thrive, and there is no Holocaust. The small Jewish settlement in Palestine continues, but without a flood of refuges it remains a minority community there.
  • Without World War I, there is no World War II and no Cold War. Science develops much slower -- the U.S. doesn't put a man on the moon, there is no atomic bomb, and penicillin and antibiotics are slower to hit the market.

They are seeking comments and contributions from others - you may want to add your imaginings to the discussion.

An interesting twist to the 'what if's' described by John Lennon in his "Imagine" lyrics.

Would we have had a formal declaration of a "national anthem" in 1918?

Would we have had prohibition?

Would women's voting rights have been passed in the 1920s?

Share your thoughts with us, or with Minnesota Public Radio!

Happy Birthday National Anthem!!


The Star-Spangled Banner" became our official national anthem on March 3rd, 1931. That was 83 years ago today!

Herbert Hoover was our president and his signature on the Congressional bill made it official.hoover.jpg
The Congressional Action - 36 U.S. Code § 301 - also specified aspects of behavior to be observed whenever the national anthem would be played:

(b) Conduct During Playing.-- During a rendition of the national anthem--

(1) when the flag is displayed--
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

The words to the anthem were written by Francis Scott Key as he saw the flag continuing to fly over Fort McHenry after a massive overnight British bombardment in 1814, during the War of 1812.

The words were were published in a Baltimore newspaper and later set to music of "To Anacreon in Heaven,"ironically this was a popular English song. Throughout the 19th century, The Star-Spangled Banner was treated as the national anthem by most branches of the U.S. armed forces; however, it wasn't until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order formalized this. To bolster the credibility and role of the anthem, Congress passed the legislation in 1931.

So, get out there an grab a sweet treat as celebration of the formal establishment of our national anthem!cake.jpg

The Melody


The melody Francis Scott Key used for his song was the popular English tune known as "To Anacreon in Heaven". Anacreon was an ancient Greek poet noted for his praise of love and wine. Written about 1775 by John Stafford Smith, the tune was originally the "constitutional song" of the Anacreontic Society, a gentlemen's music club in London.

Lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner


O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O'er the ramparts we watch'd were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
'Tis the star-spangled banner - O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto - "In God is our trust,"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

During the 19th century, "The Star-Spangled Banner" became one of the nation's best-loved patriotic songs. It gained special significance during the Civil War, a time when many Americans turned to music to express their feelings for the flag and the ideals and values it represented. By the 1890s, the military had adopted the song for ceremonial purposes, requiring it to be played at the raising and lowering of the colors. Despite its widespread popularity, "The Star-Spangled Banner" did not become the National Anthem until 1931.

During the 19th century, "The Star-Spangled Banner" became one of the nation's best-loved patriotic songs. It gained special significance during the Civil War, a time when many Americans turned to music to express their feelings for the flag and the ideals and values it represented. By the 1890s, the military had adopted the song for ceremonial purposes, requiring it to be played at the raising and lowering of the colors. Despite its widespread popularity, "The Star-Spangled Banner" did not become the National Anthem until 1931.

Armed Forces Instrumental Arrangement


During World War I the War department established a standard arrangement to be used by U.S. military bands. Although this arrangement is often used in nonmilitary performances, there is no single official version of the anthem designated for civilian use.

Courtesy Maryland Historical Society.

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