Not Just for Kids

 Vol. 10, No. 37

September 12-18, 2002

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Francis Scott Key saw an inspiring sight like this after a battle in the War of 1812.
Attacks Can Make Us Stronger
By April Falcon Doss

This week marks one year since the September 11 attacks on America. Sometimes it helps to remember that the United States has been attacked before — and we’ve always recovered and grown stronger.

In 1814, the British sailed up Chesapeake Bay and fired their cannons at Baltimore. From this attack came “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem.

As long ago as the Revolutionary War, the people of Baltimore were afraid that the British would attack Baltimore’s harbor by boat. So, in 1776, Baltimore’s citizens built a fort on a point of land sticking into the Patapsco River. To reach Baltimore, warships would have to sail past that point.

The British finally did attack during the War of 1812. It was a scary time: They had already captured Washington, where they set fire to the Capitol and the White House. The flames could be seen in Baltimore, 40 miles away.

On September 13, 1814, British ships began bombarding Fort McHenry as they tried to slip past to attack Baltimore. For 25 hours, they fired on the fort and the 1,000 soldiers who were stationed there. But they couldn’t get past the fort’s cannons. At last, the British gave up. Baltimore had been saved.

During the night of September 13, an American named Francis Scott Key watched the British attack from onboard an American ship. His friend had been captured, and Key sailed out into the Chesapeake to meet with a British navy officer and argue for his friend’s release.

The British agreed, and sent Key and his friend to an American truce ship in the harbor. From that ship, Key watched the British bombard the American fort. He could see the fort’s red-white-and-blue flag flying boldly through the night.

The flag still proudly flew above the fort the next morning when the British gave up and sailed away. Seeing that flag inspired Key to write the poem that became “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem.

Did You Know …
  • That the flag flying over Fort McHenry that day was specially ordered?

  • An American major named George Armistead declared that he wanted a flag big enough for the British to see from far off.

  • That the flag was made by a mother-daughter team?

  • Baltimore flagmaker Mary Pickersgill sewed the enormous flag for the fort, helped by her 13-year-old daughter, Caroline.

  • That the flag flying over Fort McHenry that day was the largest battle flag ever flown?

  • It was 30 feet high and 42 feet long — long enough to stretch halfway from home plate to first base on a major league baseball diamond. Mary and Caroline Pickersgill used 400 yards of wool bunting to make the flag — enough fabric to run the length of 4 football fields.

  • That there are four verses to “The Star-Spangled Banner”? Find them online:

The Star-Spangled Banner

O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming!
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Kids Stuff

Wednesday, September 11-15
Anne Arundel County Fair
It is the 50th anniversary of the fair so come on out and join the festivities, including exhibits, rides, games, a petting zoo and pig races. 4pm W-F, 8am S,Su @ Anne Arundel County fair grounds. $5 w/age discounts: 410/923-3400.

Thursday, September 12
Spinning Spiders
Here is your chance to learn more about those mysterious creatures, spiders. Find out why they are always making webs and what else they do. 10:30am @ Kings Landing Park, Huntingtown. $3/$1 members. Rsvp: 410/535-5327.

Saturday, September 14
Light the Night
Commemorate those whose lives have been touched by cancer in this 2.5 mile stroll thru Solomons. Each participant carries a lit balloon showing fellowship. 6pm @ Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons. Free, Rsvp: 410/825-2500.

Irish Heritage Festival
It is a celebration of three generations of Charles Carroll, so come on out and enjoy artisans, living history demonstrations, Celtic music, dancing, food, Irish storytelling and much more. 11am S, Noon Su @ Charles Carroll House of Annapolis: 410/269-1737.

Saturday, September 14, 16
Talent Machine Auditions
Any Talent Machine member, between the ages of 6-18, may try out for the holiday show. Be prepared to show your vocal range and dance. 6:30pm @ West Annapolis Elementary School. $5 membership; 410/956-0512.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly