Girl Scouts, Little League baseball players, celebrity musicians and President Barack Obama are joining a national celebration today to mark Flag Day and the 200th anniversary of the national anthem and the flag that inspired its lyrics.
Obama will introduce the Smithsonian Channel's new one-hour documentary special about the history of The Star-Spangled Banner and the 200-year-old flag in a show premiering tonight.
Many Americans know the tune but don't actually know the words or the events that inspired them, the documentary's producers said. The words were written by lawyer Francis Scott Key to honor the flag flying over Baltimore's Fort McHenry in what was a turning point against the British during the War of 1812.
The president recorded a message about the flag's history for the new documentary on Friday.
The National Museum of American History is coordinating a celebration and national sing-along today on the National Mall in Washington with an "Anthem for America" concert.
Inside the museum, Key's original handwritten Star-Spangled Banner manuscript will be displayed with the flag for the first time, the museum said. It's usually housed at the Maryland Historical Society.
Country singer Carlene Carter, daughter of June Carter Cash, will lead the sing-along on the National Mall at 4 p.m. A 400-person choir will also perform America the Beautiful and Lift Every Voice and Sing during an earlier concert. The performances will be streamed live on ESPN3 and YouTube.
Nationwide, 800 Macy's stores plan to play the national anthem today.
The bands Phish and Train and singer Renee Fleming are among 20 musicians recording their own renditions or messages about the flag for YouTube.