From the office of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski:
At 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 13, 2014, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) offered remarks at Baltimore’s Star-Spangled Spectacular at Fort McHenry. The event marks Defenders Day and celebrates the 200th anniversary of the successful defense of Baltimore from invading British forces during the War of 1812 which inspired America’s National Anthem. Following her remarks, Senator Mikulski introduced British Ambassador to the United States Sir Peter Westmacott.
Below are Senator Mikulski’s remarks:
“I’m so proud to welcome you to Fort McHenry, a revered national monument and historic shrine, as we commemorate the bicentennial of Defenders Day.
“It was this day when the brave city of Baltimore led the way in the War of 1812, defending our nation and holding the American line.
“Some call the War of 1812 the forgotten war. I believe it was the war that forged our nation.
“As the United States entered the war, we were a loose collection of states. As we emerged from it, we were on the path to becoming a true nation.
“It was also during this war, at the Battle of Baltimore, that we gained an enduring icon of national patriotism. It is our National Anthem, inspired by the naval battle here at Fort McHenry.
“In the dark days following the British attack on our Capital, the Battle of Baltimore was a rousing victory. The British had just burned Washington, D.C., setting our Capitol and White House ablaze. America’s morale was sagging.
“Less than a month later, the British sent a fleet of ships toward Baltimore, sailing up the Bay to break America at the war’s frontline, in what is known today as Patterson Park.
“But first, they had to get past Fort McHenry. The British bombed the Fort for 25 consecutive hours.
“A young lawyer, Francis Scott Key, watched from a nearby ship where he was being held. When the smoke cleared that morning, he could still see 15 stars and 15 stripes.
“He was so inspired that, despite the bombs bursting in the air, ‘our flag was still there.’ He wrote the lines of the song that later became our National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.
“That day, the line was held in Baltimore in our young country’s war against the world’s most powerful nation.
“Fort McHenry has made history, and Fort McHenry has seen history. It served as Baltimore’s own Statue of Liberty for waves of immigrants sailing into our harbor, including my very own great grandmother. She came to this country from Poland on a ship sailing past Fort McHenry. When she saw that American flag, she knew she was in the United States of America.
“The War of 1812 was a clash of two countries that later became allies and comrades in arms. Though we wanted to separate ourselves from British rule, our quarrel was never with the people of England.
“The British have always been our steadfast supporters and our greatest allies in our darkest hours and our most significant triumphs.
“That’s why it is with such enthusiasm that I introduce to you a great friend to me and to our country. Please welcome the British Ambassador to the United States of America, and a distinguished statesman in his own right, Sir Peter Westmacott.”