News / USA

    'War of 1812' Flag Still Inspires After 200 Years

    In this Nov. 20, 1998 file photo, workers at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History cover the flag that inspired "The Star Spangled Banner," prior to the flag's restoration.
    In this Nov. 20, 1998 file photo, workers at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History cover the flag that inspired "The Star Spangled Banner," prior to the flag's restoration.
    Ted Landphair
    This is a really big year at Fort McHenry, a star-shaped fortification overlooking the harbor in Baltimore, Maryland.

    Baltimore and a few other places are commemorating the 200th anniversary of the start of what Americans call the War of 1812 - even though it wasn’t finished until 1815. Fort McHenry, and an oversized flag that flew above it, played a memorable part in that war.

    What is sometimes called our nation’s “Second War of Independence” against Britain was not going well for the young United States when Fort McHenry came into play in September of 1814. The British had torched the White House and Capitol in Washington, and they headed north to Baltimore.  

    Their gunships pounded Fort McHenry mercilessly for 25 straight hours. If it fell, the harbor would be under British control, and so would Baltimore.
    Only in America-Fort McHenry Flag
    Only in America-Fort McHenry Flagi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X


    But at dawn, as Francis Scott Key, a Washington lawyer who observed the shelling, wrote in a poem, a miraculous visage of “broad stripes and bright stars” of the U.S. flag appeared, still “gallantly streaming” over Fort McHenry.
    An aerial view of Fort McHenry. The 15-star flag shown is current, but it approximates the oversized flag that flew over the fort during the fateful bombardment of 1814. (National Park Service)An aerial view of Fort McHenry. The 15-star flag shown is current, but it approximates the oversized flag that flew over the fort during the fateful bombardment of 1814. (National Park Service)
    x
    An aerial view of Fort McHenry. The 15-star flag shown is current, but it approximates the oversized flag that flew over the fort during the fateful bombardment of 1814. (National Park Service)
    An aerial view of Fort McHenry. The 15-star flag shown is current, but it approximates the oversized flag that flew over the fort during the fateful bombardment of 1814. (National Park Service)

    Thwarted and out of ammunition, the British sailed away and Key’s verses became the words to the U.S. national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

    As for the largest battle flag ever flown at the time, which Fort McHenry’s commandant, Lt. Col. George Armistead, had ordered raised as a defiant symbol of resistance: It survived, shot full of holes. 

    Col. Armistead kept it and allowed several pieces, including one of its 15 stars, to be snipped off and given away as souvenirs. 
    A soldier guards the original Fort McHenry. Note his size and that of the flag. (Wikipedia Commons)A soldier guards the original Fort McHenry. Note his size and that of the flag. (Wikipedia Commons)
    x
    A soldier guards the original Fort McHenry. Note his size and that of the flag. (Wikipedia Commons)
    A soldier guards the original Fort McHenry. Note his size and that of the flag. (Wikipedia Commons)

    In 1912, what was left of the flag was presented to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. After many restorations, it is front and center at the National Museum of American History.

    And on Flag Day, June 14, this year, three red threads from the historic Fort McHenry flag were sewn into the “National 9/11” flag, a tattered remnant of an even more terrible attack on the United States by terrorists, who brought down the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.  

    That 9/11 flag is currently on tour and will end up on display in the Sept. 11 Memorial that is being built at Ground Zero where the towers once stood.

    The threads came from seven small patches of the original Fort McHenry flag that are held by the Star-Spangled Banner House Museum in Baltimore.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: TruConserv from: AZ
    September 18, 2012 3:21 PM
    JD - chill out. This isn't a story about the War of 1812, it's about a flag. The sole line in the story about the war itself is factually correct, it is sometimes called the Second War of Independence.

    Next time, give some time to reading comprehension before whining about how a story is the story YOU wanted.

    by: JD from: AL
    September 10, 2012 12:02 PM
    You obviously haven't done your research as to what the "War of 1812" really was, how badly Canada whooped us, or about how it allowed the Rothschild's to put us further in debt to Britain by established a loaned over "federal" bank that taxed and enslaved the American people to the Britains and continues to affect us in Common Trade Laws today. Do us all a favor, get a different day job, or at least start doing some "research" before you post oblivious BS.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora