So you'd think we'd all know the words by now - not a chance, reports The Early Show correspondent Tracy Smith.
Even the Commander in Chief forgets; he forgot them at the Abraham Lincoln Museum opening. And if you think this is embarrassing, imagine doing it in front of a microphone. That is what happened to 13-year-old Natalie Gilbert at the Rose Garden on April 25.
Believe it or not, two out of three Americans don't know the words. But now there is a movement to change that.
Travis Tellitocci heads The New York Mets portion of "The National Anthem Project," a program that has enlisted sports teams and schools across the country to teach everyone the anthem.
Asked if he honestly knows the words, he says, "Yes, I mean no. I've learned a lot since I started."
The program's honorary chairperson is first lady Laura Bush and it has the support from a myriad of education, civic and corporate leaders.
The program has its work cut out. But it may be worth the effort. That same song that makes people giggle when they goof it up, can make you swell with a patriotic pride when you get it right.
On The Early Show, Gayle Rodriguez, a music teacher in Queens, N.Y. made that point clear by leading her chorus of 23 8-year-olds in the national anthem, accapella.
She is a participant in the project and notes its purpose is twofold: "To encourage Americans to learn the words to the national anthem and to sing it with pride whenever they go. The other purpose is to bring attention to the education of music in school," she says.
Experts say the lyrics' lack of knowledge is due to shrinking music programs in our schools.
During the War of 1812, an American flag continued to fly in Baltimore despite coming under fire from British troops for more than 25 hours. Francis Scott Key was so moved by the sight that he wrote the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner," which eventually became the national anthem. For more information, visit The National Anthem Project: Restoring America's Voice.