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The Original Manuscript Of The National Anthem Returns Home

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A 200 year old piece of paper is one of the most important documents in our country’s history.

Mike Schuh reports how the words of Francis Scott Key are back home.

What’s tucked inside a black case is irreplaceable. Every child, every american knows about Francis Scott Key. A man who, when detained aboard a British ship, witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry. After his release, at an inn downtown, he quickly penned the lyrics to what would become our National Anthem.

For six brief weeks the document was placed in front of the giant flag that flew over Fort McHenry that day.

“This is the first time that we know of that the star spangled banner and the original manuscript penned by Francis Scott Key have ever been brought together,” said curator Jennifer Jones.

More than 250 thousand people saw the two together, and the document has made a move, but not in another D.C. musuem. The document lives in the town of its birth: Baltimore.

“It’s the original manuscript of the star spangled banner written by Francis Scott Key.” said Maryland Historical Society CEO Bert Kummerow.

Kummerow’s eyes twinkled as he talked about the document.

It’s kept away from dawns early light, in fact, any light for all but a few minutes per day. Light and oxygen will damage the paper, and Baltimore continues to defend what’s important.

“This is one of the most important pieces of paper in our country’s history, indeed, and I’m sure that the national archives would be happy to have it right next to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and all the other things they have down there, but where is it? Well, it’s here at the Maryland Hisotrical Society and you can walk in the door and see it,” said Kummerow.

For a week in September the document will travel to Fort McHenry to be a part of the 200th anniversary celebration that will be held  there. The Maryland Historical Society is open from Wednesday through Saturday.

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