Summer 2014 NEH – Banner Moments

Heading off this summer to another great National Endowment for the Humanities summer institute.  “Banner Moments: The National Anthem in American Life”focuses on American History through music.  This September 2014 is the 200th Anniversary of the National Anthem. To refresh your memory, OR to fill in the blanks because you dozed through American History class.  In a nutshell, the War of 1812 America is fighting the Brits AGAIN for independence.  The British burned the White House in Washington, DC and them moved to Baltimore to take over the harbor there.  Francis Scott Key like everyone else in Baltimore watched the battle rage on through the night.  The citizens knew that if the British took the Fort the country would be lost.  In the early morning hours they waited for the battle smoke to clear and the sun to come up.  If the American flag was still flying they would know that the British lost.  “By the dawn’s early light” Scott spotted the flag and wrote the poem called “The Defence of Fort M’Henry.”  The poem was published in magazines and newspapers at the time and embraced by the country as an anthem to victory.  It didn’t became the National Anthem until March 3, 1931. The flag is on display at the Smithsonian Institute.  The story of the flag is amazing in itself.  The wholes you see in pictures where mainly from souvenir hunters and the family that owned the flag cutting out stars and snippets to give away.  A few years ago it was restored and a special room built for it’s viewing.  You can get information here on the flag and the 200th Anniversary. There are lots of visits into Washington DC and to Baltimore/Ft. McHenry included in this institute.  The most challenging thing for me, however, will be the fact that it is hosted by the Music Department from the University of Michigan.  And anyone who knows me, knows that I’m tone-deaf.  They promise that it will be music-centered, which I’m OK with, as long as they don’t expect stellar performances from me, we’re good!Image


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