Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99


News Opinion

Key's manuscript to appear with 'Banner' that inspired it

Some things just naturally go together, like peanut butter and jelly.

This summer, Francis Scott Key's original manuscript for "The Star-Spangled Banner" — America's national anthem — will be reunited for the first time with the flag that inspired it.

"The National Museum of American History is proud to be the home of the iconic Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key in 1814 to write passionate lyrics after the relentless but ultimately unsuccessful British bombardment of Baltimore's Fort McHenry," John Gray, director of the National Museum of American History in Washington, writes on the Smithsonian Institution's website (

"His song became our national anthem in 1931. Both the anthem and the banner are the most recognized symbols of our country and this year, the flag will serve as a lens through which we will present exhibitions, programs and special events to allow our visitors to examine American identity and to celebrate our shared culture."

The fragile, 30' by 34' wool and cotton flag long has been the centerpiece of the American History Museum. Key's manuscript, which is being loaned by the Maryland Historical Society, will join it from June 14 through July 6 in an environmentally controlled chamber.

Low lights will protect both historic artifacts, though an Institution spokesman writes that these conditions actually are a plus because they "dramatically evoke an atmosphere of 'dawn's early light,' similar to what Key experienced on the morning of Sept. 14, 1814."

Entrance to the Smithsonian, as always, will be free.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Volunteers pour into Fort McHenry wetlands to clean up

    Volunteers pour into Fort McHenry wetlands to clean up

    Big crowd gets beautiful weather for trash collection, tree planting

  • Tall ship Pride of Baltimore II returns to Inner Harbor

    Ship has been traveling the U.S. since May

  • Dixon's return

    Dixon's return

    Given the riots after Freddie Gray's death, the ensuing spike in violent crime and all the systemic economic, educational and social problems that have been brought to light as a result, Baltimore could assuredly use an election. We need a real conversation about this city's leadership, and we...

  • The burdens of being black

    The burdens of being black

    I was born human more than a half century ago but also birthed with the burden of being black. I discovered racial discrimination early in life. I grew up among the black poor in Hartford, where a pattern of housing segregation prevailed. One city, but separated North end and South end on the basis...

  • Montgomery's sick leave experiment

    Montgomery's sick leave experiment

    Long before there was a statewide ban on smoking in restaurants, Montgomery County adopted such a restriction when it was still a pretty controversial step to take. Before the Maryland General Assembly approved widespread use of cameras to enforce traffic laws, Montgomery County already had them...

  • Illegal fireworks penalties [Poll]

    Illegal fireworks penalties [Poll]

    Should the penalty for using and possessing illegal personal fireworks, currently a $250 fine, be increased?