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The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Bicentennial bash in Baltimore

Before every sporting event or when a gold medal is won by an American at the Olympics, one song plays that represents national pride and patriotism: the Star Spangled Banner. Within the history of the United States, Maryland—and Baltimore in particular—hold one major milestone: the writing of the Star Spangled Banner.

At dawn on September 14, 1814, Francis Scot Key wrote the words of the Star Spangled Banner aboard a British ship in the Baltimore Harbor while looking at the American Flag, then adorned with just 15 stars, still waving after the Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

Now, on the bicentennial birthday, the city of Baltimore is throwing a Star Spangled Spectacular from September 10-16throughout the city.  This presents the perfect opportunity to go experience a bit of American history, 200 years after it occurred, in the city that started it all— the city we all call our second home.

The War of 1812 was the second win for the United States over the British and The Battle of Fort McHenry was the turning point.  However, the Star Spangled Banner, and Key, a man who was born and died in Maryland, did not receive publicity and fame overnight. President Herbert Hoover officially announced the Star Spangled Banner the National Anthem on March 3, 1931, 117 years after Key first penned the lyrics that all 3 billion Americans know today. The same flag Key saw that September night can now be seen in the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.

To honor the 200th birthday, there will be free events throughout Baltimore. From museums to restaurants to historic sites, the entire city is coming together to showcase and celebrate this milestone anniversary.

The Maryland Science Center will be showing an IMAX movie entitled, “Star Spangled Banner: Anthem of Liberty” that will outline the history of the War of 1812 and the role that Fort McHenry and Baltimore played in the war. At the childhood home of Babe Ruth, now a museum, there will be a special exhibit, “O’ Say Can You See: The Star-Spangled Banner in Sports.” The exhibit will outline the first uses of the Star Spangled Banner in sporting events, and how it plays a role today at every Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards.  When the performer sings “O’ say can you see,” the entire Camden Yards crowd screams, “O!” in honor of the Oriole mascot.

The largest attraction of the week, occurring on September 13 at the Pier Six Pavilion, is the “Star Spangled Spectacular: Bicentennial of Our National Anthem.” The 2-hour long concert beginning at 7 p.m. is hosted by John Lithgow and Jordan Sparks, and features performances by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Kristin Chenoweth, Little Big Town, and Train, to name a few. Tickets range from $80-$175.

After the concert, there will be the biggest firework show since 1814 stretching from the Inner Harbor to Fort McHenry.  The fireworks will be in sync with the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner. When they sing, “broad stripes and bright stars”, the fireworks seen will show stripes and stars. The fireworks will be able to be seen from Pier Six Pavilion, the Canton Water Front and Fell’s Point.

In honor of the War of 1812, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels will put on an air show on September 13 and 14 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Due to the wide array of events   events, the CEO of Visit Baltimore, Tom Noonan, told The Washington Post he believes the Star Spangled Spectacular will be the “largest tourism event in the history of Baltimore.”

In many ways, the song is a representation of America. There have been thousands of renditions, from Beyoncé to Barry Manilow to the Backstreet Boys to Jimi Hendrix during Woodstock in 1969; every rendition captures a little piece of why people are proud to be American.

The Inner Harbor is easily accessible via a cab, or from Penn Station on the Charm City Circulator.  On the Charm City Circulator (which is free!) you can get anywhere in the city including Fort McHenry, Fells Point and Federal Hill.

More information about these events can be found at

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Bicentennial bash in Baltimore