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Cub Scouts and Our National Anthem

Our National Anthem

At least one of the Cub Scout adventures for each rank requires the boys to participate in a campfire program with a song or a skit.  What better song to sing than our National Anthem–especially if your campfire includes a flag retirement ceremony!

Tiger Adventure – Tigers in the Wild 5: Participate in an outdoor pack meeting or pack campout campfire. Sing a song and act out a skit with your Tiger den as part of the program.

Wolf Adventure – Call of the Wild 6:  On the campout, participate with your family or den in a campfire show. Prepare a skit or song, and then present it at the campfire for everyone else.

Bear Adventure – Bear Necessities 2:   Attend a campfire show, and participate by performing a song or skit with your den.

Arrow of Light Adventure – Camper 4: On a pack campout, work with your den leader or another adult to plan a campfire program with the other dens. Your campfire program should include an impressive opening, songs, skits, a Cubmaster’s minute, and an inspirational closing ceremony.

Here are the complete lyrics to our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched 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.
Oh, 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! Oh 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 washed out their foul footsteps' 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!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved 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!

Although The Start Spangled Banner was written in 1814, it didn't become our National Anthem until March 3, 1931 when a congressional resolution was passed and was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

I spent some time talking to my Wolf about the song, and I realized that to truly understand the song, he needed to know the context in which it was written. I used this information and paraphrased it for him.

After we discussed the history behind Francis Scott Key writing the song, I gave my son a copy of the first verse and asked him to highlight the words he didn't know.  We used the dictionary app I have on my iPhone to look them up.

This list of words and meanings that the boys might not understand came from a lesson plan from Tarleton State University.  By clicking the link, you can see the entire lesson plan in a Word document.  I learned something myself–I had no idea what a “rampart” was!  🙂

Dawn: beginning of day
Proudly: feeling very good about something
Thro': poetic abbreviation for “through”
Hail'd: cheered; poetic abbreviation for “Hailed”
Twilight: the time between sunset and dark
Gleaming: shining
Perilous: dangerous
O'er: poetic abbreviation for “over”
Ramparts: piles of earth around a fort to help provide defense
Watch'd: poetic abbreviation for “watched”
Gallantly: bravely
Streaming: constantly moving
Rockets: bombs
Glare: a strong, bright light
Proof: evidence

There are many beautiful versions of The Start Spangled Banner to which our kids should be exposed.  But one of my all time favorites is Jimi Hendrix live at Woodstock.  If it isn't on your playlist already, grab the iOS version here and the Adroid version here through my affiliate links.

Do you think your Cub Scouts would sing the National Anthem at a campfire program?

Yours in Scouting,

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10 Ideas for National Anthem Day—March 3 | Voice of Scouting

Friday 4th of March 2016

[…] a patriotic campfire with flag retirement.  Sherry, at Cub Scout Ideas, says”At least one of the Cub Scout adventures for each rank requires the boys to participate […]


Thursday 13th of March 2014

When my Webelos den had to learn about how the National Anthem was written I had them act it out. We put one group on one side of the room and designated them as the British ship and had them pretend to shoot cannons at the other group on the other side of the room who were designated at the fort with the flag flying overhead. They ducked incoming "bombs" and yelled "BOOM" etc for the bombs landing. Then we turned out the lights for nighttime and after a minute or 2 turned them on for "dawn". One boy on the ship was designated as Francis Scott Key and he shouted when he saw the flag still there in the "morning".


Friday 14th of March 2014

Robin, that is an awesome idea!!!! I love it, and I'll bet the boys had a blast! Thanks for sharing.