Oh Say, Can You See?

by Kassandra Lamb

As I searched my brain for a topic for this year’s Independence Day post, I realized that I’ve never talked about something of which every native of my home state is quite proud.

Maryland is the birthplace of The Star-Spangled Banner.

My guess is most U.S. schoolchildren learn that our national anthem was penned by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812. But in Maryland, we got the whole story.

Ft. McHenry Bombardment, 1814

The remnants of the Ft. McHenry flag

Francis Scott Key, a Washington lawyer, had gone aboard a British truce ship to negotiate the release of a prisoner of war, when the Battle of Baltimore commenced. He was forced to stay on the enemy’s ship and watch as the British bombarded Fort McHenry just outside the Baltimore harbor for a full day and night.

Key was also an amateur poet, and he was so moved by the sight of the U.S. flag still flying over the fort the next morning that he wrote a poem about it, titled “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” This was later set to music and became our national anthem.

Ft. McHenry

Maryland schoolchildren still take field trips there.

Like most people who take their local sights for granted, I hadn’t visited Fort McHenry but once as a young child, tagging along with my mother who was chaperoning my older brother’s class field trip.

Finally in my thirties, an out-of-town guest asked to see the sights in Baltimore City, and we ended up at the fort.

What struck me was how small it was. My early memories of that field trip were quite vague, and I’d always visualized Ft. McHenry as a huge complex, similar to modern Army forts.

The entire fort is only a little over 43 acres. It was defended in 1814 by just a thousand troops.

Today, the Baltimore fireworks are set off in the Inner Harbor, recreating the image that Francis Scott Key saw from that British ship — the “rockets’ red glare” lighting up the stars and stripes flying over Fort McHenry.

Below is the video from the 2014 two-hundred-year anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore.


What national treasures do you have in your neck of the woods?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

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  • Reply
    Cindy Hamilton
    July 3, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Great post! Very informative. Things I had forgotten, actually. Shame on me.

    Like you, growing up in Maryland, I only remember one field trip to Ft. McHenry. Seems like the nuns preferred to take us to DC and Gettysburg. Guess they had more things to see.

    Hubby was raised in Williamsport, PA and had never been to Gettysburg until about 10 years ago.

  • Reply
    Barb Taub
    July 4, 2017 at 1:23 am

    Wonderful post! And you’re right—I’d only known the fact, not the details of this story.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      July 4, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      Thanks, Barb. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Reply
    July 4, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Interesting post, Kass. I learned a couple of things. Happy 4th to all the misterio ladies!

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      July 4, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      Glad you liked it, Vinnie! I had fun putting it together.

      This is one of the few times of the year when I miss Maryland. The town near where we used to have our summer house has the most amazing fireworks ever.

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    July 4, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    I love organized fireworks.

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