‘Star-Spangled Banner’ flag and lyrics headed for reunion

This handout photo provided by the Smithsonian Institution, taken in Nov. 2008, shows a family viewing the Star Spangled Banner at the Smithsonian\'s National Museum of American History in Washington. The original, handwritten manuscript of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the flag that inspired the song\'s lyrics will be displayed together at the Smithsonian in Washington, what is believed to be the first time the historic pieces have been shown side-by-side, on Flag Day, June 14, through July 6. (AP Photo/Hugh Talman, Smithsonian Institution)

WASHINGTON — It’s going to be a star-spangled year, says Burt Kummerow, president of the Maryland Historical Society.

The year 2014, he says, will see a series of events leading up to September’s 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore, when the British attacked Fort McHenry but had to retreat, which inspired the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“The surviving icon of that Battle of Baltimore in 1814, of course, is the Star Spangle Banner itself, the flag,” Kummerow says.

He says a 35-year-old lawyer, Francis Scott Key, was watching the battle with great concern on the morning of Sept. 14, 1814. Key was wondering whether the British had taken the fort. But then he saw Old Glory still flying, and that was inspiration behind the song that eventually became national anthem.

Kummerow says Key wrote the four verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner” over the next several days.

“The big thing that we’re very excited about is the fact that we have the actual, original four-verse manuscript that he wrote,” Kummerow says.

And as part of this year’s events marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore, the manuscript on will be on display this summer beside the flag itself in the flag chamber at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

These two icons of American history have never been brought together, but on June 14 — Flag Day — they’ll be side-by-side, but just for a few weeks. And Kummerow says this won’t happen again for a very long time.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on the WTOP Facebook page.


Advertiser Content