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Palin in Baltimore: The midnight ride of Francis Scott Key?

After all the publicity surrounding Sarah Palin's unique version of Paul Revere's midnight ride, plenty of people in Baltimore are probably wondering about Ms. Palin's take on the War of 1812, given her recent visit to Fort McHenry. In light of her stirring version of those historic events in New England, I was confident that Ms. Palin must have taken the opportunity to weigh in on the events surrounding the Battle of Baltimore — and indeed, I understand that she afforded her eager listeners a dissertation very much like this:

"Well ya know, the British were tryin' to get the colonies back 'cause they wanted to start taxin' 'em again. And the good patriots of Baltimore said, 'hey, we're not payin' any more taxes 'cause we're free now, and we don't want any big government tellin' us what to do.' So the British said, 'well, we'll show ya. We'll bomb ya 'til you start paying taxes again.' And so, one night, they brought the whole British Navy up the river, and started bombing the fort where Baltimore kept all its guns — cuz big government is always after your guns. But the good patriots of Baltimore put up a big American flag at the fort, and started firin' right back at 'em. And this goes on all night.

"And, well, Francis Scott Key was like the most famous songwriter of his time. Kinda like, ya know, Lee Greenwood or somebody, except music was classical then. He was so famous that that's where we get that thing about music being in 'key.' So somebody wakes up Key and says, 'Hey, there's an awesome battle goin' on down at the fort, and you gotta get down there and write a song to encourage everybody to keep fightin'. So Key gets outta bed, jumps on his horse, and goes ridin' to the fort. And, when he gets there, he sees the bombs bursting in air. And as the sun comes up, he sees the big flag they put up still flyin', and he gets so inspired, he writes our National Anthem right on the spot.

"And he starts singin' it, and, everybody in the fort that was gettin' tired of fightin' hears him singin', and they all get inspired and keep fightin' and firin' their cannons and guns at the British. And the British hear 'em singin' and know that, if they're singin' after all that bombin', they can't be beat, and so they give up and turn around and sail back down the river.

"And that's really what the song and America are all about. If ya bomb us, we're gonna bomb ya right back, 'cause we're the land of the free and the home of the brave, and don't ya forget it."

Look for changes coming soon to Wikipedia.

Raymond Daniel Burke, a Baltimore native, is a shareholder in a downtown law firm. His email is

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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