September 14th, 2014 marked the 200th anniversary of a notable event in American history. Other than the website of the national park that is commemorating the event, there's not much conversation to be found.
If I asked 10 people the significance of September 14th, 1814, I would be surprised if more than one person could answer correctly.
Does anyone study history anymore?
From studying history in school I remember names and dates on a timeline. History is more than just memorizing a date. Throuhout my life I have visited many historic sites to learn more about the events associated with the famous names and dates.
I recall a volunteer tour guide at a historic site lamenting that Americans really don't know much about history. The guide was a World War II veteran who was sharing his personal insights and perspectives of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces during World War II.
There are many symbols in our lives that we accept, without knowing why. As a parent I often took my kids to many historic sites to give some meaning to those names and dates on a timeline.
In the aftermath of the terrorism of September 2001, I wanted to take our family somewhere to reflect on the price America has paid for freedom. We visited Fort McHenry in Baltimore, the birthplace of our National Anthem.
Before every sporting event and many other social gatherings we rise for the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner. But how many Americans can tell you the story behind the song?
The 200th anniversary of the story behind the symbol
Those who say we celebrate September 14th, 1814 as the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner are missing the story behind the symbol.
Francis Scott Key was an American prisoner on a British ship who saw the large American flag still flying above Fort McHenry's ramparts. On the morning of the September 14th, 1814, inspired by the American flag waving above Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key would write that "the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"
Key's poem "Defence of Fort McHenry" is a first hand account of the young American republic as they held their ground over Britain in The Battle of Baltimore.