After the Flood – Baltimore Magazine
Tag: Fort McHenry
Hopefully you’ve been taking advantage of the many activities and events going on in Baltimore this week to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the national anthem. Even the president is getting in on the celebration, the Baltimore Sun reports.
BALTIMORE, July 2, 2013: At a 11:30 am celebration at Ft. McHenry National Monument and Shrine on July 4, The Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) will begin recreating the 30 x 42 foot Star-Spangled Banner flag that inspired the writing of our national anthem. The flag is an authentic reproduction of the original and will take more than 100 volunteer stitchers six weeks to complete. The start of the project will be heralded with great fanfare by canon fire and living history re-enactors in 1812 era dress including the ‘first stitch’ sewn by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Oh say can you stitch? That’s the question the Maryland Historical Society put to 100 of the country’s most adept quilters recently in recruiting 100 volunteers to recreate the original 30’ x 42’ (read closely—that’s feet, not inches) Star-Spangled Banner flag that inspired the writing of our national anthem (named after the flag itself, as we know). But even with 100 super-fast stitchers, this is no mean feat. It’ll take the volunteers six weeks to complete—that’s as long as it took to create the original flag, but with far fewer hands at work. The project begins on July 4 at Fort McHenry and will be accompanied by an appropriate amount of fanfare, including a procession led by the Fort McHenry Fife and Drum Corps, the ‘first stitch’ being sewn by a prominent Maryland citizen, and even a culmination with canon fire.
National Park Week feels a little like a secret, perhaps because those of us who know about it kind of want to keep it a secret; if everyone knew that admission to the nation’s 401 national parks/battlefields/sites was free this week, why they’d be overrun! But we’re not too worried about that, because most of them are pretty big — also, the free admission only lasts through Friday — so we’ve come up with a list of a few local and regional picks for you to enjoy this week, at no cost to you. So go on, take a day off work and explore.
Above: Iconic painting of Adam Cockburn in front of Washington. “He’s our main villain, and his big song, ‘Too Rocking to Lose,’ is the first number on Sunday.”
This Sunday, Baltimore-based journalist David Dudley and Dave Israel bring the Battle of Baltimore to the Creative Alliance. But instead of muskets and cannon blasts, expect guitar riffs and a light show preview. That’s right, they’re retelling the battle that inspired our National Anthem as a (comedic) rock opera. I was able to talk to Dudley about the upcoming double-song preview event, which will be taped by a Canadian TV station.
What made you and your collaborator want to tackle the Battle of Baltimore?
Well, we first started working on it in the late 90’s, and at the time Dave and I were both living in South Baltimore, a few blocks away from Fort McHenry. We would put on this party every September to celebrate the battle and Baltimore’s victory over the British – we called it the “defender bender.” Over the years we started integrating interactive events into the party, and then Dave and I, who were in a band at the time, began writing songs about the battle, just as a thing to do. We had already been involved in writing another historical rock opera–about the Donner Party–purely for our own amusement. Then we started messing around with the idea of another rock opera, telling the story of the Battle of Baltimore. The subject is so misunderstood–it was battle that had a debatable influence on a war that ended on an ambiguous note. The attraction for us was to explore an event that’s been so mythologized. We didn’t have any real agenda; we just enjoyed using the medium.
And why did you enjoy the medium – why a rock opera?
This is a very traditional rock opera. There’s no dialogue, it’s just a cycle of rock songs that tell a story. It’s kind of a pretentious way to approach it, but it’s also so fundamentally goofy. The framing device of the show is that we’re seeing the very loose semi-accurate memory of a guy trying to explain to his son what the Battle of Baltimore was about – the whole opera is sort of a cartoon version of what really happened.
[Check out the teaser trailer after the jump.]