star spangled in the sunshine

A week ago found the miraculous combination of sunshine, no appointments, and N's day off! What are the odds, right? Deciding to seize the day, we headed around the harbor to Fort McHenry for my first visit to the birthplace of our national anthem. What a treat! If you haven't been, I suggest you put it on your summer "to-do" list, pronto.

In case your history is a little rusty, this star-shaped fort played a major role during the War of 1812, during the Battle of Baltimore. A thousand Americans successfully staved off the British invasion of the Fort and Baltimore's harbor while Baltimorean's watched on baited breath from rooftops throughout the city all night. Also watching this battle was Francis Scott Key, who was inspired to write a poem that became the Star Spangled Banner as he saw the American flag rise over the fort after a horrendous night of cannon bombardment. Due to the valiant efforts of the soldiers as well as Baltimore's merchants - who sunk 22 of their own ships to create an artificial reef to block British ships from entering the harbor - Baltimore was saved.

The fort was later used as a military prison during the Civil War, and was then made in to a national park in 1925, and then a "National Monument and Historic Shrine" in 1939 - the only place to hold this double title!

There is a lovely visitors' center, with a great (though somewhat glossed-over) video documentary of the Battle of Baltimore. When the Star Spangled Banner start up, the screen rose into the ceiling revealing a wall of windows, and the American flag was seen gently flapping in the wind atop the fort, even I felt a little teary. A walk through the fort was informative and interesting, with recreated soldiers' quarters, etc to poke through, and sweeping views of the city and harbor from the fort walls. Next time I'm taking a picnic! I also hope to see the Fort McHenry Guard - a volunteer group that helps bring history to life for visitors; I believe they will be there starting May 28th.
Each September, Fort McHenry commemorates the successful defense of the city from the British. I don't have details on the affair, but I imagine it's a sweet scene and worth checking out! Hey, you could even take the water taxi over and make it a real lil' urban adventure.

love k


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