Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July

John and I did some sightseeing in Baltimore when we were there for the last seminar.  We learned about the 15-star flag, which flew over Ft. McHenry in 1814.  After invading Washington and burning the White House, the British sent warships into the Chesapeake and shelled Baltimore. The warships stayed back about 2 miles from Ft. McHenry to stay out of the fort's cannon range, and after 25 hours of pounding Baltimore, withdrew. 

Frances Scott Key was held on a British ship, and after observing the attack and then seeing that the enormous 15-star flag at the fort was flying in the morning (each stripe was 2 feet tall, and could be seen far across the water), wrote a poem intended to be sung to a well-known tune.  Shortly afterward, it was given to the local newspaper.  The song spread across the country rapidly, became the national anthem, and we'll sing it again today.  This point in our history marked the Stars and Stripes becoming the symbol for America's "land of the free and home of the brave."

At Ft. McHenry, you can listen to ranger talks, look at interactive exhibits, listen to many versions of the song, watch flag ceremonies, and walk around in the earthen fort.  As we strolled, we could imagine how terrifying it must have been to know the capital city had burned and to be shelled by so many ships for such a long time, the soldiers wondering whether they'd survive, whether the fort would hold, and whether this was the end of the American venture.

Happy Fourth of July!  We're going to be grateful, picnic with friends and watch fireworks.  Hope you have a wonderful day, too!

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