Star-spangled 200

200 years ago this morning, Francis Scott Key wrote what would become America’s national anthem, “The Star-spangled Banner.” He had just witnessed the British Navy bombard Fort McHenry for 25 solid hours. After the smoke cleared, he looked to the fort’s flag to see if it was still flying. It was.

His poem about the attack, “Defence of Fort McHenry,” was later set to music. In 1931, it became our national anthem and the song that, for some reason, starts every sporting event in this country.

Fort McHenry sits just outside of Baltimore Harbor. Yesterday, I went downtown to check in on the festivities celebrating the 200th anniversary of Key’s poem.

Naturally, it was pouring rain virtually the entire time. The tall ships and naval vessel visiting from around the world were still fascinating to see.

Picture of a ship on the Baltimore Harbor in Maryland

Pirate-y ship on the harbor

Picture of a ship on the Baltimore harbor in Maryland

Details on the ship

Picture of a ship in Baltimore harbor in Maryland

Dog carving on the ship

Picture of high water in Baltimore harbor, Maryland

Notice the water spilling onto the walkway at the bottom right

The Baltimore Harbor in Maryland

The harbor, taken from the sushi restaurant at which we found shelter

Paddleboats on Baltimore Harbor in Maryland

Historically accurate paddleboats for the kids

Picture of British naval vessel in Baltimore, Maryland

A British naval vessel, visiting without a trace of irony

My friends and I walked from the Inner Harbor to Fell’s Point. If you ever do come to Baltimore, the Fell’s Point neighborhood must be on your list of things to see.

Picture of Fell's Point in Baltimore, Maryland

Fell’s Point

Picture of an odd vehicle in Baltimore, Maryland

Cruising around Fell’s Point in style (it’s this thing)

Picture of Vino Wine Bar in Baltimore, Maryland

Vino Wine Bar in Fell’s Point (I bet you can guess where I stopped!)

The Blue Angels, the US Navy’s flight-demonstration squadron, gave an aerial performance despite the weather. I wasn’t looking too forward to it–I’m not very “rah! rah! America!”–but, I have to say, it was really impressive to see those birds flying. Everyone in Fell’s Point jumped to their feet and ran outside to watch.

Picture of the Blue Angels in Baltimore, Maryland

Blue Angels

Picture of the Blue Angels in Baltimore, Maryland

Picture of the Blue Angels in Baltimore, Maryland

I unfortunately missed the best events–last night’s fireworks show and performance by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. I did catch the live broadcast of the show when they played Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture–probably my favorite piece of classical music (though I always picture Parliament exploding when I hear it).

All in all, it was a good way to spend a rainy day. And it made me even more convinced that You. Must. Visit. Baltimore!

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