By Michael Isam
St. Augustine, Fla, (June 15, 2014) – Voices heard around the world!
On Saturday people across the nation gathered to wish “Happy Birthday” to our National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The brainchild of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Americans hosted singing parties to celebrate the 200th anniversary and sing the anthem together. The Smithsonian hosted the premier singing party and shared the live broadcast across the nation and around the world.
Locally, nearly 100 people gathered on a hot and muggy afternoon to be part of the event. Event goers were met by a cadre of Maria Jefferson Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) members as they passed out small flags in honor of the auspicious occasion.
“One of the objectives of Daughters of the American Revolution,” said Linda Trevlyn, current Regent, “is Patriotic Endeavor.” “Through our efforts as a chapter,” she continued, “we endeavor to cherish, maintain and extend the institutions of American freedom.” The DAR has long held the effort of “fostering true patriotism and love of country, and to aid in securing for all, the blessings of liberty,” said Trevlyn.
In as far as the flag itself goes, "There was nothing special about it [the flag] at the time," said Scott S. Sheads, historian at Baltimore's Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Sheads was speaking in an article on the Smithsonian website, of a time when our new nation was still struggling for survival.
As is the case during history, the participants of the moment have little knowledge of the far-reaching effects their actions will have on the progeny to follow.
On a blazing July day in 1813, Mary Pickersgill, a hardworking widow known as one of the best flag makers in Baltimore, received a rush order from Maj. George Armistead, the newly installed commander of Fort McHenry. The 33-year-old officer wanted an enormous banner, 30 by 42 feet, to be flown over the federal garrison guarding the entrance to Baltimore's waterfront. Pickersgill, her daughter Caroline, and others, wrestled more than 300 yards of English worsted wool bunting to the floor of Claggett's brewery, the only space in her East Baltimore neighborhood large enough to accommodate the project.
More of the history is available at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/star-spangled-banner-back-on-displ....
On a rainy September 13, 1814, Francis Scott key, a 35-year-old American lawyer, watched as British warships sent a 25 hour downpour of shells and rockets the eight miles onto Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. Key fully expected to see the British Union Jack to be flying over the fort come daybreak. To his astonishment, and delight, the American Flag still flew, signaling the American victory. That sight inspired his words to the "Defence of Fort M'Henry" printed in The Baltimore Patriot and now known as "The Star-Spangled Banner."
More history is available at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-story-behind-the-star-spangled...
The local event was coordinated by John Reardon. With the help of many local groups, the event was declared a gigantic success. The St. Augustine Community Chorus, joined by the young cast members of “Oliver!” and directed by Kathleen Vande Berg, led the audience in a stirring rendition of our national anthem, not once, but twice. The first time to help make history; the second “to applaud those who came to pay proper respect to our country and all she stands for,” said Reardon. “What a great day!” he continued.
Among the many organizations present was Judy Burnett Albright a member of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum Board of Trustees. “I am here for a number of reasons,” said Albright, “I am here for my son who served in the Army; I am here for John to support his efforts, and to represent the Lighthouse and Museum.” John Regan, City Manager, represented the City of St. Augustine.
Unplanned participants in the festivities were two wedding parties and a soccer team from Europe. They all graciously took a moment to help celebrate.