National Anthem Leaves Home for First Time in 200 Years

The original manuscript of "The Star-Spangled Banner" written by Francis Scott Key will leave Baltimore for the first time in nearly 200 years. The handwritten poem will make a quick stop at an event in nearby Annapolis, Md. before being transported to its birthplace, Fort McHenry, where tourists will be able to see it for the next three months.

The fragile document will be transported from its home at the Maryland Historical Society today in an armored car. Upon arriving in Annapolis, it will be placed on view during a private two-hour reception for the Maryland General Assembly hosted by the National Anthem Celebration Foundation.

The group is preparing for the 200th anniversary of the writing of the anthem. It was penned during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814.

On Wednesday, the National Anthem will again be moved. It will be lent to the National Park Service for public viewing at Fort McHenry, the birthplace of the National Anthem, for three months.

Fort McHenry is where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the poem that eventually became the National Anthem. An oversized American flag was sewn by Mary Pickersgill in anticipation of a British attack in 1814, and when Francis Scott Key saw the flag emerge intact in the dawn of September 14, he was so moved he composed the poem.

The visitor center at Fort McHenry just had a major renovation, and will re-open for the first time to the public on Thursday, March 3. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will include visits from the Ravens Pep Band, Charm City Cakes, and elected officials. There will also be fireworks.

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