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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

To Anacreon in Heaven

The Battle of Baltimore was a combined sea and land assault on the port city of Baltimore, Maryland, fought between the British and America in the War of 1812, even though the Battle took place in September of 1814.
The Battle began on the morning of September 13th, and raged over the next twenty-five hours.  Major George Armistead and about a thousand troops manned Fort McHenry.  On the dawn of September 14th, 1814, the Major ordered the tattered storm flag which had been flying through the battle be replaced with a large one that would identify his position and be visible at a great distance.  Using a flag made by a local flag maker, Mary Pickergill and her 13 year old daughter, they hoisted the grand banner that measured 30X42 feet.
The Battle was a turning point in the War for the Americans as their forces stopped the invasion of Baltimore.  A lawyer on a mercy mission to get a doctor freed from the British, Francis Scott Key and Dr. William Beanes were forced to stay with the British until the Battle was over.  Key, who was also an amateur poet, was so inspired the morning of September 14th, that he began writing verses on the back of letters he was carrying.  It was set to the tune of an old British drinking song, "To Anacreon in Heaven."
Upon his return his poem printed on pamphlets by the Baltimore American originally called the "Defense of Ft. McHenry."  In time the tune/poem became known as the "Star-Spangled Banner" and Congress made it our countries National Anthem in 1931.
It always astounds me about the circumstances involved for things to come about!
If Mary Pickergill hadn't months before made such a large flag?
If the Major Armistead hadn't had the flag in the Fort on that day?
If Francis Scott Key hadn't been on a mission to retrieve a British Prisoner, a Doctor who was released only because Key produced evidence that the Doctor had provided excellent care of British prisoners previously?
If all these things had not happened would we still have such a stirring and beautiful National Anthem?
Being an serviceman, Ex-tank driver, I still sometimes get misty eyed while saluting the flag and hearing this inspiring tune!


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