Reporting Tim Williams
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As the nation observes Veterans Day, rangers at Fort McHenry are educating the public on its history beyond the Star-Spangled Banner.
Tim Williams has more on the fort’s historic meaning for Veterans Day.
There is much more to Fort McHenry than the Star-Spangled Banner. As the nation commemorates Veterans Day, the education here is just getting started.
“Here at Veterans Day at Fort McHenry, we are doing various periods of American history. This is the uniform of militia, a citizen soldier of the Revolutionary War,” said park ranger/historian Scott Sheads.
Along with the traditional tour comes an explanation of the fort’s role in every major American war beyond 1812.
“A lot of us are dressed in World War I uniforms because Veterans Day started from Armistice Day, the end of World War I. But we have some of our rangers dressed up in World War II uniforms, uniforms of the American Civil War, the revolution and also the War of 1812,” said Vince Vaise, who works at Fort McHenry.
For example, here’s a fact: Fort McHenry was a major military hospital during World War I, with a campus of buildings that no longer exist.
“Really, a lot of the modern Veterans Administration got its start at Fort McHenry, and a lot of people don’t know that,” Vaise said.
And women served as nurses for the first time.
“Fort McHenry was General Hospital #2, the second largest hospital in the United States, so we had over 300 nurses serving here at any given time,” said historians Elizabeth, Jenevieve and Celeste.
And as for the poppies, “Poppies grow from iron-rich soil so the iron comes from the blood. The idea was that we’d pick the poppies from the graves in order to show that they were not neglected,” they said.
To this day, they are not forgotten.