Federal Resume

By Kathryn Troutman

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The Star Spangled Banner KSA accomplishment revisited

In keeping with our annual Independence Day tradition, we are celebrating the Fourth of July by bringing back our favorite blog about the Star Spangled Banner.

On September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key was on a ship eight miles down the Patapsco River (near the Key Bridge today). He had been sitting out there watching the bombardment of the British on Ft. McHenry all day and through the night. By early morning, he looked out and the huge flag was still waving in the breeze after twenty-five hours of heavy bombardment by the British. Key, who sometimes wrote religious poetry, was inspired to pen the poem (in the graphic below) that became the National Anthem in 1931.

The Commander of Ft. McHenry, Colonel Armistead knew how important Ft. McHenry was to our nation in 1812. The British had just burned Washington (including the White House and the Capitol Building) and were advancing toward Baltimore. The Commander felt that the Baltimoreans were discouraged and afraid for their city. He felt that they would have their spirits raised by seeing a huge, high flying flag at Fort McHenry as a symbol of defiance.

Colonel Armistead commissioned Mary Youngs Pickersgill, a local seamstress and flag maker to make two flags for Fort McHenry in 1813 – a large flag and a smaller one to fly in bad weather. She was paid $500 for both flags, the large one being 30 x 42 feet, so it could be seen from a great distance. She was asked to sew a flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes, the number of states then in the Union. (My grandmother was a seamstress and flag maker with a famous flag maker in Baltimore City from 1910 until 1940. I wonder if this is the same flagmaker?)

The 15-star, 15-stripe flag was authorized by the Flag Act of January 13, 1794, adding 2 stripes and 2 Stars. The regulation went into effect on May 1, 1795. This flag was the only U.S. Flag to have more than 13 stripes. It was immortalized by Francis Scott Key during the bombardment of Fort McHenry, Sept 13, 1814. The image above is representative of the actual flag that flew over Fort McHenry on that day and which is now preserved in the Smithsonian Museum. You can notice the “tilt” in some of the stars just as in the original Star Spangled Banner.

Personally, I am inspired by Francis Scott Key’s experience, the flag, Ft. McHenry, our country’s survival, and the amazing poem that Mr. Key wrote, especially the phrase “o’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

Can your spirits be raised to write a better resume by thinking about the morning that Francis Scott Key wrote the poem “Defence of Ft. McHenry” that became the National Anthem? Mr. Key’s accomplishment would make a great KSA for Ability to Write!

Context:  As an attorney and aide-de-camp to General Smith, stationed near Upper Marlboro, MD, I found out my dear friend and elderly, Dr. Beane, who was captured by the British Army during a party at his home in Upper Marlboro. I was on a British vessel flagged for truce by the future President Jackson, on my way to pick up a captured friend in Marlborough. We got as far as the mouth of the Patuxent and then we were not permitted to return lest an intended attack on Baltimore by the British should be disclosed. We were brought up the Bay just across from Fort McHenry and there we were compelled to witness the bombardment of Fort McHenry, which the Admiral had boasted that he would carry in a few hours, and that the city must fall.

Challenge:  We watched the flag at the Fort through the whole day with more than 500 bombs from British ships to Ft. McHenry. In the night the smaller weather flag was flying while we watched the Bomb shells in darkness not knowing that the American Military had secretly planned 4 barges, which the British did not detect. These barges attached the British militia and sent them running, some with tugs assisting. At the early dawn our eyes were surprising greeted by the proudly the 15-star flag of our country (late to be known as the Star Spangled Banner).

Actions:  By morning, I was compelled to pen a poem that reflected my thoughts of the war and particularly of the flag, “Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early light … “ was my first thought.

I wrote four verses that reflected topics about the day before and my vision of the flag in the morning. The first verse reviews the dawn’s light and the flag with broad stripes and bright stars that was still flying in the morning; the second verse reviews the dread silence and how the flag was fitfully blowing; the third verse reviews the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion; and the final and fourth verse celebrates the victory and peace that preserved our nation.

Results:  I witnessed the last enemy fire to fall on Fort McHenry and in this memory, I wrote the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry has been renamed to “The Star-Spangled Banner” and has become a well-known American patriotic song. The poem and song were recognized for official Navy use in 1931 and became the national them by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 and signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Posted on Jul 01, 2015 at 2:09 PM

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