Over the weekend, my husband asked if I wanted to drive to Fort McHenry in Baltimore to visit the place where the Star Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. When we moved to Maryland, the state was celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812. There were many activities taking place in the Baltimore area and ships from around the world docked over the summer to commemorate the event. Even our license plates celebrated the event with a colorful array of fireworks and the flag. Two years later, in 2014, the celebrations began again to celebrate the end of the war.
We headed out early on Saturday while it was still cool outside and cloudy since they were calling for rain later in the afternoon. I made sure to bring a hat in case the sun came out and of course it did. First, I was surprised at how small the fort actually was. The photo above is from the National Parks Service and gives a good aerial view of the fort which is somewhat star-shaped. When you look out over Baltimore Harbor, it seems small and very close to the fort. The area surrounding the fort has been well cared for and the grounds provide plenty of benches if you just want to sit and enjoy the view. Several times a day, the Park Rangers will lower and raise the flag, and if boy or girl scouts or military veterans are present, they will ask them to help. If you want to bring a picnic lunch, there is plenty of open space to do so. The Rangers also give tours and throughout the year special events are held at the fort. There were plenty of Park Rangers throughout the area and all were willing to answer questions that anyone might have. The one Park Ranger I didn’t see was Ranger Vince, who has become something of a local celebrity thanks to his quirky personality that comes through during his frequent appearances on local television. It was just announced that he will be leaving Fort McHenry after being promoted and taking a new position in Washington, D.C. Many visitors to the fort will be saddened by this news.
Nearby is the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House that tells the story of the woman who made the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the battle. The actual flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814 was flown again in 2014 for the 200th Anniversary. Touring both places can take as little as two hours or longer if you want to go at your own pace. If you are near Baltimore, you might want to stop and take a quick tour. The links below will give you more information.