Cyber Monday Sale: Get 75% off a 1 year digital subscription
The Baltimore Sun

Feeling patriotic on Flag Day

Clear your throat.

Do a little vocalizing.

Practice singing a scale.

Now you're ready to hit that high note when you sing "… and the land of the free …"

On Flag Day this Saturday when you do your best to belt out our national anthem, you'll be part of a coast to coast sing-a-long.

The big-do will be sponsored by the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution as part of its observance of the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner.

Kickoff of the Saturday "Raise it Up, Anthem for America" will be at 4 p.m. on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

Everyone — so-so singers included — is invited to join with celebrity singers and hundreds of members of organized choruses in a rousing rendition of Baltimorean Francis Scott Key's famous words.

Baltimore, indeed, has another Star-Spangled Banner claim to fame. Mary Pickersgill, a local seamstress and flag maker, was chosen to make the flag to fly over Fort McHenry.

Dimensions are enormous: 30 by 42 feet. Fashioned of red, blue and undyed wool, with cotton for the 15 stars, the banner was planned as a bold statement to the British who were sure to come.

When they did come in September 1914, Key witnessed the forceful — but unsuccessful — bombardment of the Fort. As the story goes, thus inspired, he wrote his famous words on the back of an envelope.

Various Reisterstown residents, some years later, undoubtedly had chats with Francis Scott Key, Jr. and his famous father when the two came shopping in the village from Key Jr.'s home, "The Elms," several miles up Westminster Pike.

The Fort McHenry flag was folded and stored in the attic of the home of the fort's commander, General Armistead, for many years.

Turned over many years later to the Smithsonian, the flag, after a $7 million restoration — thanks in part to designer Ralph Lauren — now is displayed in a temperature-controlled chamber.

Don't forget: on Saturday at 4, sing out.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun