BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Taking a closer look at the story behind the Star-Spangled Spectacular.

Linh Bui had several historians take us back in time.

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History comes alive at Fort McHenry as the nation shines a spotlight on Maryland’s past for the Star-Spangled Banner’s bicentennial.

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“You don’t get many 200th birthdays. You really don’t,” said Bill Pencek, Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. “This is a special time for those of us in Baltimore and Maryland.”

Part of the War of 1812 happened in our own backyard. The British terrorized Marylanders for months before bombarding the fort.

“The fort, the defenders, who were really untested at this point, bravely stood their ground,” said Tina Cappetta, Fort McHenry National Monument. “And they stood up to the most powerful navy in the world.”

“What would have happened had Baltimore fallen? It is easy to conceive, and I think the general consensus is the British then would have set their sights on Philadelphia or New York, would have divided the country in half,” said Pencek.

When the smoke cleared and the clouds lifted:

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“They fly a flag. They had made a flag especially for the purpose of seeing that it was there. So it was big,” said Burt Kummerow, Maryland Historical Society president.

Baltimore had saved the day. What a sight for Marylanders, including attorney Francis Scott Key.

“And it filled his heart with such relief and such inspiration that he was moved to write the Star-Spangled Banner,” Cappetta said.

“All four versions were put on a sheet of paper, printed and passed out all over the city. And within three or four weeks, I like to say, it went viral,” said Kummerow.

Two-hundred years later, it’s our chance to reflect and rediscover.

“It’s time for us to sort of re-claim that place that we have in the national narrative in the creation of the country and these great symbols of our nation,” Pencek said.

Stay with WJZ for complete coverage of the Star-Spangled Spectacular. We will bring you the sights and sounds of this once-in-a-lifetime event all week long.

For everything you need to know about the Star-Spangled Spectacular, click here.

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