American history, needlework, conservation efforts, music, and poetry
Watercolor and pencil on paper
The Star-Spangled Banner
National Museum of American History
Open every day except 12/25
National Anthem Day
It was during the War of 1812, that Major George Armistead commissioned the making of two over-sized flags to fly over Fort McKinley in Baltimore, Maryland.
As anticipated, the fort was attacked by the British, and when it was over, the smaller storm flag, though damaged, signaled the fort remained under American control. The following morning, the larger garrison flag was raised in its place. That flag is what we now know as The Star-Spangled Banner.
Poet Francis Scott Key saw the garrison flag flying over the fort the morning after the attack and was inspired to write “The Defence of Fort McKinley.” The poem would be set to music and become our national anthem.
Today the flag is missing one star and measures 30x34 feet, down six inches in length from its original 30x40 feet, diminished by keepsake clippings.
Housed at the National Museum of American History the flag is conserved in a sophisticated exhibit that controls light, temperature, and moisture.
It’s a fascinating artifact that touches on American history, sewing (the flags were commissioned and cost just over $400), conservation, music, and poetry.