Rockets' Red Glare: the War, the Song, and their Legacies

Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission

More than 700,000 people every year visit Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, the site that inspired our national anthem.  In this series, WYPR tells stories of the War of 1812: the people, the places, and the song.

This series has been funded in part with State Funds from the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, an instrumentality of the State of Maryland. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.

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Antonio Barbera / WYPR

Fife and Drum music keyed military maneuvers during the War of 1812 and latter day fifers and drummers keep that music alive. Now, they are passing that to a new generation during the first Fife and Drum Camp at Fort McHenry.

Gwendolyn Glenn

Patterson Park Public Charter School fifth graders spent their school year learning about the War of 1812, inside and outside the classroom. And yesterday they were rewarded for their efforts with the first of the city’s commemorative War of 1812 coins, presented by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake.

sugargliding/Flickr

If you ask the average American about the War of 1812, you’ll probably hear about Fort McHenry, the Star Spangled Banner and maybe the Battle of New Orleans. But ask your average Brit and you may get a blank stare. The war we call our “second war of independence,” the one in which we threw off the British for good, doesn’t even register in the United Kingdom.

Bret Jaspers / WYPR

This weekend’s Memorial Day festivities are sure to include renditions of our national anthem in parks and parades, but we usually hear the song in stadiums and arenas. “The Star Spangled Banner” is as much a part of our games as the crack of a bat or the umpire’s whistle. While the song didn’t officially become our national anthem until 1931, professional baseball stadiums played it on opening day as far back as the 1870s, when brass bands provided the musical entertainment.

Joel McCord / WYPR

The British navy launched its “Chesapeake Campaign” two hundred years ago this weekend, looting and burning and creating economic havoc in towns along the Bay. Now, state and local officials see the celebration of the bicentennial of that campaign as a tool to spur economic development. Dominick Murray, Maryland’s economic development secretary, says it will be an opportunity to bring more visitors to the state. He says “Sailabration,” the kick-off event last June that brought 18 tall ships from 14 countries to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, drew 1.5 million people and poured $166 million into the state’s economy.

Joel McCord / WYPR

A group of ninth graders from Baltimore’s Maritime Industries Academy gets a taste of life in another century through an exhibit on the War of 1812 at the Naval Academy museum in Annapolis and a sail on Pride of Baltimore II, a replica of a Baltimore clipper of that era. They learn, for example, the difference between pirates—just plain crooks—and privateers, who sailed with government issued licenses to steal.  And some students got to take a turn at the helm.

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