BALTIMORE (WJZ) — More than 1 million people are expected in Baltimore this weekend to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the national anthem. But one tourist who came through stands out from the entire crowd — the president of the United States.
President Obama made a stop at Fort McHenry to see the Star-Spangled Spectacular up-close.
Christie Ileto spoke to people who got to see the president.
It’s been America’s theme song for 200 years, and Friday, President Obama is learning why. Joined by local leaders, the president got a private tour of the fort, featuring the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner.
“There’s a moment when you go, ‘Oh my god, am I going to say the right thing?’” said Burt Kummerow, president of the Maryland Historical Society.
The iconic work is on loan from the Maryland Historical Society.
“When he came in and started peering at the document, we were all peering with him. It was very exciting, you know, it’s the president of the United States,” Kummerow said.
“To take time out of his busy schedule of everything that’s going on in the world, it’s really exciting,” said Milly Rice.
It’s a one, two punch of dignitaries for Fort McHenry.
“There are not many places in America that can say they’ve had the president and vice president on consecutive days,” Mike Litterst, National Park Service.
Litterst says both the president’s visit and the vice president’s scheduled visit for Saturday show just how important the Star-Spangled Banner is.
“Really speaks to how iconic not only the American flag is but the national anthem, born here at Fort McHenry 200 years ago,” Litterst said.
Locals and tourists are honored to be in Charm City for the same celebration as the commander in chief.
“It’s just magnificent. I’m glad he’s taking the time to celebrate this because it is so important,” said Nolonda Sobel, Oklahoma.
“The writing of our national anthem. I can’t describe it,” Barbara Burlingame of Oklahoma said while choking back tears.
Star-Spangled festivities are in full swing. From real life history lessons to the Blue Angels air show and a star-studded concert, Baltimore will be abuzz with activity all weekend. It’s 200 years of history at your fingertips.
“It’s wonderful to see all the people out moving around, looking at the ships and taking pictures,” said Bonnie Carter.
Droves of spectators are soak up the ships and the patriotic tunes.
“It was pretty fun when we got down here,” one boy said.
At Fort McHenry alone, tens of thousands of visitors are expected this weekend. And that doesn’t account for the crowds at the Inner Harbor.
The event is a source of pride for many locals.
“I grew up here. It’s grown so much. All these people here. It’s just so exciting,” said Jennifer Bowers, of Locust Point.
It’s a celebration that speaks to how iconic America’s anthem really is – so special, the president had to see for himself.
Before leaving town, the president also attended a fundraiser in Baltimore County.
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