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Place de la Bastille

What’s a Bastille?

On Bastille Day, the world parties in the name of France. But do you know what makes Bastille Day so important—not just for France but the history of all democracies? The occasion is typically honored with military parades and copious consumption of libations. This mix of weapons and wooziness arguably sums up the legacy of July 14, 1789. [...]

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  • star-spangled banner 2

    The Forgotten Verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

    Do you know all the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner”? Many people have difficulty memorizing the lyrics of the first verse of this song, which is commonly performed at sports events and other public gatherings. But did you know that there are three additional verses that we almost never hear? In 1814, the poet and [...]

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  • american flag

    O Say Can You Hear? A Look at Our National Anthem’s Poetic Roots

    This weekend, many Americans will gather with loved ones to commemorate our country’s heritage by firing up the grill, admiring some fireworks, and attempting to sing one of the most difficult songs in the English language. “Star-Spangled Banner” was adopted as our national anthem in 1931, and its soaring melody and densely packed lyrics have [...]

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