Monday, August 11, 2014

Oh Say Can You See?

Though we've lived fairly close to Baltimore and Fort McHenry, we've never been to the National Historic Park.  It's really impressive!
I've never been to clear about the War of 1812, but this was an opportunity to learn more and put some more history into perspective.

The United States declared war on Britain and Ireland for a number of reasons including: the hijacking of U.S. sailors and forcing them into service aboard British ships (known as impressment);  support of Indians in war against the U.S. and blockading/restricting U.S. trade with France.  The British seemed to have the resources and momentum after burning down the White House and Washington D.C. in 1812.  But later the U.S. had finally had some key victories in New York and New Orleans and in Baltimore. The war lasted from 1812 to 1814 when the Treaty of Ghent was signed and then ratified by Congress in 1815.

In Baltimore, the British were getting ready to take out Fort McHenry and then Baltimore when Francis Scott Key was trying to effect a prisoner of war exchange.  He was on board a British ship just before the hostilities broke out and they held him until after the siege was over.  It was from a British ship that Key saw the flag through the fog and smoke of 25 hours under bombardment.  He penned what was originally called 'Defense of Fort HcHenry'.  It was adopted for use by the U.S. Navy and eventually became our National Anthem in 1931.

We loved our time at the Historic Site.  The displays in the Visitor Center were unique as was the fantastic video of the story behind Fort McHenry and the flag.
At the end of the video the double wide screen went up and through the picture window we saw the flag over the old fort.

It was quite moving when one, then two--then all of us stood up as the Star Spangled Banner blared over the speakers.  Great start to our visit.

Next we went outside and listed to a Park guide give a presentation on the flag.  This was an audience-participation event and we all got into it.

First we lined up into two lines then held the flag which is an exact replica of the one  being flown.
As we unrolled it and then rolled it back, the guide gave us quite an interesting history lesson.  For example the flag that was flown at the time had 15 stars and 15 stripes.  (Guess what states that symbolized? - the original 13 plus Vermont and Kentucky.)

As we moved around the grounds, we went over to the old fort itself.
The grounds and the rooms around the fort were very well maintained.

The fort was also used in other conflicts including as a hospital during the Civil War and World War 1 and as a training base.
The fort is right on the water which has changed its look over the years with industry near by.
But some interesting vessels still make their way down the Chesapeake.

Fort McHenry was a great stop and we enjoyed our afternoon there!
Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!


  1. Like you, Randy, we lived relatively close, but have never visited the site. That sounds like a good one for "the list".

  2. When I lived in the DC area I went to the reenactment at Fort McHenry. It was really amazing and to see that flag flying after the battle was incredible.

  3. We've been a couple of times. Most memorable ... on a Chesapeake Bay cruise into history aboard SS John Brown, a WWII era Liberty Ship, the sound of the Star Spangled Banner emanated from the fort ... very moving.

  4. Also guilty of living close by and never visiting. But now it might be a good place to take our grandsons, who, while still young are showing an interest in history.

    I've seen the original flag several times in the Smithsonian, pretty cool it has been saved!

  5. Great history lesson!! Den and I were given a flag by our son and his wife. This particular flag was flown over the US Capitol on March 11. 2003 by order of then Speaker of the House, J. Dennis Hastert. We have a certificate that says it "was flown for Dennis and Donna Cave...We honor the flag, and it is on our wall with the certificate underneath...What an honor..I LOVE our country...and thank you for serving!!!