Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore, Maryland, is probably best known for its famous flag, which billowed over the star-shaped ramparts after a fierce British attack during the War of 1812 and inspired Sir Francis Scott Key to write the Star-Spangled Banner.
Earlier this week, nearly 7,000 schoolchildren and volunteers commemorated the 200-year anniversary of the rockets’ red glare by creating a living flag with their red-, white-, and blue-clad bodies—the largest such flag ever assembled.
This celebration may have been the biggest of its kind, but it wasn’t the first. Participants at the 100-year anniversary of the War of 1812 also formed a living flag. One of the original participants, Myrtle Sanders, who was just three months old at the 1914 event, was also able to attend this week’s flag ceremony.
She wasn’t alone. According to the National Park Service:
- Number of participants in the living flag celebration: 6,609
- Grades of the students participating: 4th through 8th
- Number of schools participating: 56
- Number of buses providing transportation: 133
- Size of the completed flag: a whopping 50,384 square feet!
I was proud to volunteer with NPCA at the living flag commemoration and will return to the historic fort for more bicentennial events this weekend.
About the author
Pamela Goddard Senior Mid-Atlantic Program Director, Mid-Atlantic
Pamela Goddard is the Senior Program Director of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the National Parks Conservation Association. She works with local, state, and federal stakeholders to restore and protect the 78 national parks, five national trails, and nine national heritage areas in the Mid-Atlantic Region.