I think everyone would agree that Sailabration, the official start of the two-year celebration of America’s defeat of the British in the War of 1812, has been a great success. Hundreds of thousands of visitors and residents have flocked to the Inner Harbor and other sites in Baltimore to celebrate, making local businesses happy and organizers proud.
While the tall ships from around the world are spectacular and have been the main attraction, for me the highlight of past week has been watching the Blue Angels with my children from the ramparts of Fort McHenry on Saturday. It was a beautiful day and a spectacular setting for the show.
It was also a very profound experience to be in the Fort and reflect on what the soldiers had endured during the bombardment nearly two hundred years ago, which was witnessed by Francis Scott Key who wrote what would become our national anthem. And to fast forward to today and reflect on the important role of America’s armed forces and the sacrifices that are made by its members and their families as symbolized by the Blue Angels.
Of course, seeing the Blue Angels also makes you think about the incredible leaps in technology that have occurred since the ships and canons of 1812 to the jet fighters of today. It also brings to mind the important role of historic preservation as exemplified by Fort McHenry, which decrepit and abandoned was established as a national park in 1925, subsequently restored by the Works Progress Administration, and continues to serve as a touchstone to the War of 1812 and our national anthem.
It was great to see some 25,000 people in the park enjoying the air show, concerts and fireworks commemorating the defining role that Fort McHenry and Baltimore played in American history. And the celebration has just begun, because the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore isn’t until September 13, 2014!