• And The Rockets Red Glare The Bombs Bursting…

    FRANCIS SCOTT KEYIf you are my age or older, you know the story of how the Star Spangled Banner came to be because you had teachers who told you that it is impossible to enter the gates of Heaven without that knowledge, God love ‘em. If you are younger, you may not know because you probably did not have those same blessed teachers.

    Either way, there is absolutely no possibility that I will be able to make you understand just how it feels to visit Fort McHenry in Baltimore and to see first-hand just what it was that caused Francis Scott Key to pen those words that we sing today, “Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early light…” words that we often take too lightly, words that to many simply mean, “Play Ball!”


    On the morning of September 14, 1814,  with the War of 1812 still raging, those same words meant something much, much different. They meant freedom, and victory, hope, and the lack of tyranny. They also quite simply meant America.

    Drilling at Fort McHenry

    Drilling at Fort McHenry

    You have to understand where we were in September of 1814…

    The Royal Navy arrived in the Chesapeake Bay early in 1813, immediately becoming the bully whose size allowed him to raid and plunder at will. For the next year and a half, things did not go particularly well for the Americans. Then, on August 24, 1814, the British defeated the Americans at the Battle of Bladensburg from whence they turned and marched the fifty or so miles to Washington DC.

    BATTLE OF NORTH POINTAfter occupying the city, troops set fire to many public buildings, including the Capitol and the White House. I assume the smell of victory was in their British nostrils at this point in the war. With Washington in flames, the Brits turned their attention to the city of Baltimore, believing that a major victory there would give them the war.

    And then it was September 12, 1814, and the first battle  for Baltimore, the Battle of North Point, was on. It was a victory for the British…but it did buy a few hours for the city of Baltimore.

    “On a rainy September 13, 1814, British warships sent a downpour of shells and  rockets onto Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor, relentlessly pounding the  American fort for 25 hours.

    “A week earlier, Francis Scott Key, a 35-year-old American lawyer, had boarded the flagship of the British fleet on the Chesapeake Bay in hopes of persuading the British to release a friend who had recently been arrested…Because he and his companions had gained knowledge of the impending attack on Baltimore, the British did not let them go…Under their scrutiny, Key watched on September 13 as the barrage of Fort McHenry began eight miles away.”

    According to Francis Scott Key, it looked as though the earth was vomiting fire and brimstone, made even more terrifying as it continued through the night. After an unbelievably long day and night of constant bombardment by the British, Key held his breath as he picked up his spy glass and turned it toward the fort, never dreaming that he would find the stars and bars waving there.


    And yet…..that is exactly what the patriot saw as the fort came into focus, causing a shout that continued to reverberate across the harbor for decades to come. America belonged to the Americans!

    Today, by Presidential Proclamation, a flag flies over Fort McHenry 24 hours of every day. On a clear day with the right amount of wind, an exact replica (the actual flag is in the Smithsonian) of the star spangled banner (30 x 42 feet) with 15 stars and stripes flies above the old fort. On other days, a smaller replica is flown, and on rainy days, a modern day flag is flown.


    On our last visit to Baltimore, Ric and I were fortunate enough to meet historian and author, Burton K. Kummerow. If you are an avid reader with an interest in history, I would suggest his work. If not, or even if you are a reader, I would also suggest that you call the fort at 410-962-4290 to purchase the video shown below. It is one of the best that I have seen…and believe me, as a history buff, I have seen a LOT!


    About Fredda Jones

    Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
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    2 Responses to And The Rockets Red Glare The Bombs Bursting…

    1. Bryant Sears says:

      Thank you for sharing and reminding us of our great history as Americans. We are sometime plagued by reminders of history that repeats itself in a negative way, but here we could do with the repeating of history that cries out to us to take a stand for what is right. Keep up the good work for the good of us all. God does Bless America! Bryant

    2. Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      Thank you so much for this comment, Bryant!

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