In celebration of the Star-Spangled Banner manuscript on view through October 31 in the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center, a special day of activities focused on the manuscript and its connection to Mount Vernon will take place on Sunday, October 5. Learn more about the surprising connection between George Washington and the melody of our national anthem!
11 a.m. & 2 p.m: A Musical Tribute Celebrating the Star-Spangled Banner. Early American music expert David Hildebrand performs authentic music of the War of 1812 in the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Auditorium. Hildebrand sings and plays upon period guitar, fretless banjo, and flutes of several sorts. Join in sing-alongs like "The Battle of Baltimore," and hear the real story about the birth of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in September, 1814.
3 p.m: Star-Spangled Presentation. On the Bowling Green, join representatives from the Maryland Historical Society and Fort McHenry in unfurling a full-sized replica of the flag which inspired our National Anthem accompanied by fife and drums.
10 a.m. & 3:30 p.m: Special Wreathlaying Ceremony at Washington’s Tomb. Listen to brief remarks about Washington’s legacy and its impact on saving Mount Vernon from discussion during the war. A performance of The Star-Spangled Banner will take place while the wreath is laid at the tomb of George Washington.
About the Star-Spangled Banner
On September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key spent the night on board a ship at Fort McHenry, Maryland, watching as the British bombarded Baltimore. At dawn, he spied the still-waving American flag in the distance, signaling an unlikely victory. Inspired, he penned a “Defense of Fort M’Henry,” which would later become America’s national anthem.
Although Key’s piece was written fifteen years after Washington’s death, the song itself is based on a popular tune that the General likely would have recognized. The melody, called “To Anacreon in Heaven,” or the “Anacreontic Song,” was first heard in London in 1776. Before Key set his famous words to this familiar tune, it was commonly used in a song called “Adams and Liberty,” which offered a musical defense of John Adams. The song was also re-written in 1793 to carry lyrics supporting the French Revolution.
Image: The Star Spangled Banner Manuscript, 1814. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society.