While thinking about the upcoming anniversary of our Independence Day, we recently learned an interesting fact.
You may not realize it, but we are approaching the 200th anniversary of one of the most pivotal days in our nation’s history. One of the lesser known facts about our country’s past is that during the Battle of Bladensburg in the War of 1812, British troops actually occupied Washington D.C. Their occupation caused the White House to be abandoned, members of Congress to flee for their lives and every government building, except the US patent office, to catch on fire, many burning to the ground. Were it not for a hurricane that forced the British to retreat, our capitol may have been permanently occupied.
The British took prisoners as well, among them, Dr. William Beanes. Beanes was a close friend of Francis Scott Key, a young attorney who lived in Georgetown. Fearing that Dr. Beanes would be hanged, the residents of Georgetown approached Key and asked if he would go to the British and negotiate his release. Key agreed and received formal permission from President Madison.
A few days later on September 5, 1814, Key was aboard the British flagship, HMS Tonnant. Despite successfully negotiating the release of Dr. Beanes they were allowed to return to their own vessel, but not allowed to land. While aboard the Tonnant they had overheard portions of the British plan to attack Baltimore. Because of this, the British kept them under observation until after the attack.
The British believed that in order for them to take Baltimore, they would first need to overtake the military installations in the area. On September 13th, the British attacked Fort McHenry with Key and Beanes situated in their boat a safe distance away. They watched as the British attacked the fort with over 1,000 men and over 1,500 cannon balls and rockets. The attack lasted over 27 hours.
In the morning, the three men watched to see if the fort had withstood the barrage. As they watched they saw an oversized American flag rise on the flag pole as reveille was played. Moved by the emotion of the moment, Francis Scott Key pulled an envelope from his pocket and wrote the words to what would later become known as The Star-Spangled Banner.
As we approach the 200th anniversary of the attack on Fort McHenry, we believe it’s important to remember the sacrifices of those men and women who have defended us during our most tenuous moments.
And as we approach the anniversary of our Independence Day, I believe it’s equally important to remember everything that our grand old flag — and the beautiful song penned for it–represents. In honor of our nation’s proud history, and in devotion to all those brave, dedicated patriots that went before us, let us work to ensure that the Star-Spangled Banner ever yet waves.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the Land Of the Free and the Home of the Brave?
– Francis Scott Key
Painting by LTJG James Murray of Francis Scott Key penning the Star Spangled Banner
Compliments of Certified Financial Group, Inc., Altamonte Springs, Florida