The 'Star Spangled Banner' manuscript will be on display.
It usually doesn't leave its home at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, but the original lyric manuscript from the "Star Spangled Banner" will be traveling to Frederick. They will be on display at City Hall from June 14-15 as a commemoration of the bicentennial of the writing of the National Anthem.
The "Star Spangled Banner" was penned by Francis Scott Key. He was on board a ship in Baltimore harbor watching the British navy bomb Fort McHenry on September 13-14, 1814. He was inspired to write the poem after seeing the flag still standing in "the dawn's early light" even after a constant overnight bombardment by British ships.
"As part of the visit, on Saturday, before leaving, it'll actually go by the monument and his grave, and it will be the first time the manuscript has been back with Key since he handed it off in 1814," says John Fieseler, Executive Director of the Tourism Council of Frederick County.
The "Anthem and Author Reunited" will begin on Flag Day, Friday, June 14th, with the unveiling of an historic marker in front of City Hall at around 2:00 PM. After that, the public will be invited inside to view the manuscript. It will be available for citizens to look at between 2:30 PM and 5:30 PM on Friday, and 9:00 AM until 2:00 PM on Saturday. The document will be inside the first floor meeting room, where the Mayor and Board of Aldermen hold their meetings. "Because of the preservation of the document, the light level will be very low at City Hall. So we want to give people a heads up that when they go into that board room, it will be very dimly lit there," says Fieseler.
On Saturday, the manuscript will be moved from City Hall to Mount Olivet Cemetery to Key's gravesite. It will be escorted by the US Army Old Guard and horse-mounted units from the National Capital Park Police--Montgomery County. The US Army Old Guard will include the Commander and Chief's Guard, the Fife and Drum Corps, the Continental Color Guard and Honor Guard. Another historical marker commemorating Key's writing the "Star Spangled Banner" will be unveiled, and Frederick native and opera star Tracie Luck and the Fort McHenry Guard Fife and Drum Corps will perform the National Anthem.
After that, the "Star Spangled Banner" manuscript will be returned to its home in Baltimore.
Fieselers says other historical markers will be unveiled at Court House Square, the Hessian Barracks and Harry Grove Stadium, commemorating Key's association with these sites. He says an interpretative marker featuring a fragment of one of the British bombs that "bursted in air" over Fort McHenry will be unveiled at the Visitor's Center on East Street.
Fieseler says there's been a lot of interest in coming to the event. He says even some people from outside of Frederick County are interested in coming. "I spoke not long ago with somebody from New Jersey that was coming down that actually is a descendant of Francis Scott Key," he says. "It has been picked up by some media from out of the area, particularly they seem interested in just the whole notion of the manuscript being back with Key."
But he acknowledges that the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg could overwhelmed next weekend's events. "This falls two weeks before that, and so timing wise, they don't conflict with each other. But it does make for a busy season and we're happy about that," he says.
Anyone who wants more information on the events the weekend of June 14-15 can go on line to www.visitFrederick.org.