The Fourth of July Holiday to many brings thoughts of barbecues, sunshine at the beach and family gatherings. This past Fourth of July was a very special one for me, as I had the opportunity to do something few people ever do. On a five-day vacation in the Baltimore/Annapolis area, I planned to see some of the historic sites I'd not experienced before. On Thursday June 30th, 2011 my wife and I visited the Maryland Historical Society's (MHS) headquarters in downtown Baltimore. That night was a unique occasion-- as they were unveiling the original document- the Star Spangled Banner poem written by Francis Scott Key as he witnessed "the bombs bursting in air..." over Fort McHenry during its bombardment by the British on September 13th and 14th, 1814. The MHS was "bringing it back home" after its recent stay at the Fort. The Star-Spangled Banner will now reside permanently in the Society's collection, a gem amongst hundreds of other notable artifacts in their archives.
If you plan to visit Fort McHenry, you'll find their new Visitor Center quite impressive, with a 20-minute film on the War of 1812, the history of the Fort and the heroes who fought there. For a chance to raise the flag, be sure to get there before 9:30 a.m. and ask one of the rangers if you can assist them. Whether it be the Fourth of July or any other day during the year, you'll feel as I did... the honor and the gratitude for the efforts of all the brave men and women who've kept this country safe... "O'er the land of the free... and the home...of the brave..."