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Fort! Flag! Fire! Fort McHenry Celebrates Star-Spangled Summer

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Ron Matz 370x278 Ron Matz
Ron Matz is an Emmy award-winning reporter who joined the Eyewitness...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) —  There’s something new at Fort McHenry as they gear up for a special summer.  It’s all part of the 200th anniversary of the writing of our national anthem.

Ron Matz reports it’s all about Baltimore and Fort! Flag! And Fire!

From the Fort McHenry Guard to the stars and stripes, it will be a summer to remember at the birthplace of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Fort! Flag! Fire! is a special new program at Fort McHenry that visitors can enjoy each day.

“Before people would get some living history on the weekends and now they’re going to get that experience practically every day of the week. You’re going to come to Fort McHenry and every one of those days there will be cannon fire, fife and drum concerts and civilian activities, so it’s a new way of experiencing the fort,” said Vince Vaise, Fort McHenry ranger.

Ranger Jim Bailey, who portrays Francis Scott Key, says it’s an honor playing Key, and he enjoys telling people about who the man really is.

“It’s a tremendous honor, but it’s also an incredible responsibility,” said Bailey. “I mean he’s the author of the Star-Spangled Banner. Everyone’s heard of Francis Scott Key.”

This summer is devoted to what happened at dawn’s early light 200 years ago.

“The two greatest symbols of the nation — the anthem and the flag — came from Fort McHenry and now people will be able to understand it like never before,” said Vaise.

Fort! Flag! Fire! offers tours, firing of the fort’s cannons and has a special children’s program.

“We have a wooden musket drill with the kids, they can dip the pen in ink and write with a quill, or stitch a flag,” said Vaise.

In addition to the program at Fort McHenry, there are also other events happening throughout Baltimore to celebrate its heritage. The Maryland Science Center is showing an IMAX film about the War of 1812, and there are two exhibits about the flag makers, the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

“We’re painting the town red, white and blue this summer,” said Sam Rogers, Visit Baltimore.”The Fort is the star, but we have great exhibitions and activities all throughout the city. Sept. 10-16 we have the Blue Angels, the tall ships and there’s a new television show that will be broadcast nationally. This is really Baltimore’s heritage, and we’re going to be sharing that with the entire country, all summer and into September.”

“It’s already busy here. Visitation is through the roof. It’s an amazing time to be at Fort McHenry. It’s the star-spangled summer in the star-spangled city, in the star-spangled state,” said Bailey.

This Saturday night there is a free special program beginning at 6 p.m. that will feature three fife and drum corps.

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