I am here to answer that for you.
Every time the Star-Spangled Banner is sung, royalties are paid. They are paid to the outfit that wrote it...the Mafia.
Oh, sure, some of you are rolling your eyes, but lets go through the song a bit, and soon it will be self-evident to you, too, that the Star-Spangled Banner is their anthem.
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light
The Mafia is known...well known...for doing their work in the midnight hour. One individual, whose name has been lost to history but is widely believed to be "Seh" (pronounced "say"), observed such an event. The day before he was to testify in court and identify the scalawag who perpetrated the injustice, he was taken out and...I do not want to be too graphic here with this story involving a knife and an eyeball, but the question was asked, "Oh, Seh, can you still see?"
What so proudly we hailed at the twilights' last gleaming
The Mafia was, as might be expected, heavily involved in the tea smuggling trade. The British were on the lookout for the smugglers, who developed a complex series of signs and countersigns to protect themselves.
After one particularly grueling smuggling trip, previously deemed impossible, one small Mafia foray got safely through with every bit of tea and were justifiably satisfied with their accomplishment. Eschewing their normal silent exchange of signs, confident they had eluded their pursuers, they yelled to the camp, a habit known as "hailing". This incident occurred just as the last of the sun's rays slipped from the sky...known as the twilights last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming
When caught in their various underhanded enterprises, Mafia members were subjected to the lash. Of course, they did not refer to it as the lash...a Mafioso who had kept the code of silence throughout his punishment would talk about "I stood 30 stripes".
Often, those who stood the stripes commemorated the event by getting a tattoo, generally one star per ten lashes. When the tattoos were still fresh, they were much more colorful or "bright"and, being in the shape of a star, were naturally referred to as bright stars.
One group, recently starred and standing to their stripes, were rescued in a bitter street fight with the Redcoats, and even as the blood streamed down their back, they fought valiantly against their erstwhile captors, the event being immortalized in song.
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there
While smuggling tea was a major component of their "business", it was ale to which they repaired, drunk out of flagons. In the song, they shortened the word to flag, indicating they were willing to fight so long as a good bout of drinking awaited them.
O say does that star spangled banner yet wave?
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave
Those Mafioso who were captured would, upon release from prison, be granted a flag with a star for each stripe or prison year served, making them untouchable in the underworld, what would later be called "made men".
If they kept the code, they were now free and brave, and the measure of their success was remaining so while flying the stars and stripes over their business, often in secretive ways discernible only to those who knew what to look for.
Thus, to find a mafia who had the stars and stripes, one would look for the star spangled banner flying over their location.It is important to note a few things. First, they were the worst, most violent, despicable men imaginable, engaged in every criminal, immoral, unethical pursuit.
Second, there was of course no Mafia at the time...I simply used that phrase throughout so you would have a point of reference. They were highly organized, desperate criminal characters and not worthy of any praise.
Third, they are still with us today. We call them Congress.
The joke ended there. In a vain attempt to actually provide some sort of redeeming value to this post, I have included all the lyrics for your amazement and amusement.
Here are the lyrics in toto
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 rockets' 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 on 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 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.
O, 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!