I love historical anniversaries and celebrations, so it’s no surprise that when The Kid and I visited Washington, DC last month that I was super excited to visit The National Museum of American History and visit the exhibit that so beautifully displays the banner for which our National Anthem was written. From June 14th through July 6th, Francis Scott key’s original manuscript will be together with the banner for the first time compliments of The Maryland Historical Society.
We made a bee line for the famous flag that Francis Scott Key spied that fateful morning over Fort McHenry in Baltimore. Key, an attorney turned amateur poet, was awestruck by the flag’s resilience and, realizing that Fort McHenry had not surrendered to The British, was moved to write the famous poem on the back of a letter he was carrying.
It wasn’t until 1931 that Congress voted to adopt “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the official National Anthem for The United States and, although we only sing the first verse, the anthem actually has four.
Photos are not permitted in the exhibit, but it was very easy to embed the details and beauty into my brain! The banner’s gallery entrance is composed of fifteen ribbons, each with reflective polycarbonate squares giving the feel of movement simply by its ingenious installation. The gallery’s entry corridor serves two purposes- it gives basic information on the Star-Spangled Banner and provides a light barrier for the flag itself as a need for preservation.
The revered flag is encased in glass with dark lighting to further preserve it from fading and disintegration. It’s 15 stripes and 14 stars (one was removed and given away in the 1800’s) is laid on an incline for easy viewing. In 2000, the linen backing that was sewn onto the flag was removed, and some 1.7 million stitches removed as well by conservators to protect the flag from further damage.
The exit corridor is just as interesting as the entrance and delves into details of its creation. A video clip showing Whitney Houston beautifully sing the anthem is continuously played and truly adds to the patriotic feel of the exhibit.
It’s only fitting that my post today should convey patriotism and the love of The United States. We’ve persevered through numerous wars and conflicts, through depressions and times of growth. Through all of this, patriotism has always shone and will always shine.
Happy 4th of July, and Happy Travels!