Fort! Flag! Fire!-New Family-Friendly Activities Honor 200th Anniversary of our National Anthem

Fort! Flag! Fire!-New Family-Friendly Activities Honor 200th Anniversary of our National Anthem

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If you are planning a trip this summer to Baltimore’s Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, they will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the penning of our national anthem with an exciting and unique program for visitors this summer – Fort! Flag! Fire!, taking place from June 28-Sept. 1.

As the birthplace of our nation’s anthem, Fort McHenry is bringing to life this crucial point in American history with new daily activities that include ranger-led tours and programs, the raising of the full-sized 30-by-42-foot flag over the ramparts, firing the cannons, plus “on duty” living history participants dressed in the uniforms of the soldiers, sailors and civilians from the War of 1812.  Special activities for the “little soldiers” are available for the young and the young at heart. Families can also ride the narrated Fort McHenry Boat Tour, which sails the same route as Francis Scott Key in 1814.


Visitors can arrive by taking the Banner Route on the free Charm City Circulator buses – a direct route to Fort McHenry.

Fort! Flag! Fire! programming includes:

Ranger Programs (seven days a week)

10:15 a.m. – “Hoist the Colors! Flag-Raising at Fort McHenry”

Visitors can take part in hoisting the grand 30 x 42-foot Star-Spangled Banner flag over the ramparts of the historic fort.


11:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. – The “Keynote” Story!

The ranger tells the story of the events leading up to the writing of our national anthem in this interactive program, where visitors move model ships, figures of British soldiers and small flags.


12:15 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 4:15 p.m. – “Broad Stripes and Bright Stars!”

Visitors get to unroll the full-sized replica Star-Spangled Banner flag on the exact site where it flew in 1814.


2:15 p.m. “The Battle of Baltimore and Birth of the Anthem”

Visitors get to discover what it was like to be a defender at the fort in 1814 by “becoming” a member of the gun crew and being “drafted” into the militia. The tour concludes with visitors standing on the fort’s gun deck looking at the location of Key’s ship and the British fleet.


2:15 p.m. History’s “Wildcard Weekend!” (Saturdays and Sundays only)

Visitors can meet one of the “Rock Stars” from 1814 which include: Francis Scott Key, who penned the national anthem; Mary Pickersgill, who made the large flag; Major George Armistead, who commanded Fort McHenry; a British soldier from the 4th Regiment of Foot; and even Dr. William Beanes, who was indirectly responsible for Francis Scott Key writing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”


5:15 p.m. “Lower the Colors”

The American flag flies 24 hours a day by Presidential proclamation at Fort McHenry. Join the ranger for a flag change as the 1814-style American flag is changed to the modern one.


Living History Programs

(Wednesday through Sunday only)

The Battle of Baltimore comes to life at Fort McHenry Wednesdays through Sundays with living history presentations by the Fort McHenry Guard. Dressed as soldiers, sailors and citizens from 1814, Guard members provide a touchstone to the past by “holding down the fort”. Cannon-firing, fife and drum concerts, cooking demonstrations and children’s activities offer visitors a glance of what the battle, which led to the penning of our nation’s anthem, was like!


11 a.m. and 2 p.m. “A Blast from the Past!”

For visitors who like smoke and noise, this demonstration is perfect! The cannon-crew will be in full gear and action against the British ships that turned away the morning after the Battle of Baltimore.


Noon and 3 p.m. “Fun and Fury with Fife and Drum!”

Visitors will learn about how music inspired the troops, regulated the duty day and reflected the diversity of the young United States. Dressed in their hallmark red uniforms of U.S. field music, the fifes and drums corps will play original pieces from 1814.


1 p.m. to 4 p.m. – “Citizens Stand!” and “Young Defenders!”

Visitors will have a chance to learn about how average Baltimoreans contributed to the city’s defense from the British at the “Citizens Stand!” station while the “Young Defenders” station presents children’s activities that include hands-on projects from drilling with wooden muskets, stitching a flag, writing a letter using the same types of quill and ink Francis Scott Key used when he wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” plus much more.

For more information about Fort! Flag! Fire! and Baltimore’s latest happenings, visit


Lindsey Jenn

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