An Act of Defiance and Symbol of Perseverance

The Stars & Stripes fly over the Parade Ground

Once hoisted as an act of defiance and a symbol perseverance, the American Flag flew over Fort McHenry at the conclusion of the Battle of Baltimore.

Stars & Stripes over the Parade Ground

At the base of the [newly donated replica] flag mast near the entrance to the Interior Parade Ground of Fort McHenry is a placard with the following description:

In Full Glory Reflected

9:00 a.m., September 1814

Act of Defiance - In Full Glory Reflected placardThe bombardment has ended; the battle is over. As the rain clouds pass and the rays of the sun shine on the fort, the garrison, tired and relieved, stands upon the parade ground. All eyes stare at the large 30 x 42 foot American flag. Carefully kept dry throughout the stormy night, it is now hoisted as a special act of defiance and symbol of perseverance.

Seeing this flag from several miles away inspires Francis Scott Key to write “The Star Spangled Banner”.

“At this time the morning gun was fired, the flag hoisted, and Yankee Doodle played…
Private Isaac Munroe, Baltimore Fencibles, 1814.”

For this and other fine art photographs of Fort McHenry click Bill Swartwout Photography.

Stars and Stripes Flying over Fort McHenry

Stars and Stripes as a National Icon

Storm Flag at Fort McHenry

Inside the Vistor Center at Fort McHenry there are many displays with narrative about The Fort and our U.S. Flag. Here is one such description:

Stars and Stripes as a National IconIt reads: As American nationalism grew in the 1800s and early 1900s, so did the use of the flag as a national icon.

The Stars and Stripes had not been so widely used in the early years of the Republic, but its association with “The Star Spangled Banner” made it more popular. In 1848 the U.S. Army began carrying the flag into battle, and during the Civil War the Stars and Stripes was a highly visible symbol of the hope for a reunified nation.

In 1890s new patriotic organizations promoted flags for schools, the introduction of the Pledge of Allegiance and regulations against “misuse” of the flag. In their eyes the flag was a bulwark against threats to American identity from mass immigration and organized labor.

By the 1960s the American flag was seen by some to reflect a narrow and exclusive vision of American identity. In protest they burned or defaced flags, prompting Congress to criminalize such behavior in 1968. This legislation was repealed after the Supreme Court rules that flag burning was an expression of free speech. These struggles over the flag’s meaning are testaments to its enduring power as a national symbol. 

For fine art photographs of Fort McHenry click HERE –