By order of the President, the flag of the United States of America flies day and night here at the place where Francis Scott Key saw it when he wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Without words, the unfurled flag answers Key's immortal question, "O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"
The Star-Spangled Banner that Key saw here after the British bombardment is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.Mary Pickersgill, a Baltimore seamstress, made the huge wool flag in 1813. It measured 30 x 42 feet. Note that the flag bore 15 stripes—not 13—during the 1795-1818 period.
United States Flag Star-Spangled Banner 1795-1818, 15 stars, 30 x 42 feet.Park rangers fly a full-size nylon replica of the famous flag when weather permits. The large flag will not unfurl in winds of less than 5 mph, winds of 12 mph or more put dangerous stresses on the flagstaff. At least 3 to 5 persons are required to raise and lower the large flag.
United States Flag Star-Spangled Banner 1795-1818, 15 stars, 17 x 25 feet.In addition to the large flag, the 1814 garrison kept a smaller flag (17 x 25 feet) for stormy weather. Today park rangers keep flags of several sizes on hand, changing them as weather conditions change.
United States Flag 1960-Present.On July 4, 1960, the United States fifty-star flag was officially flown for the first time anywhere from the flagstaff here.Today's replica flagstaff was handmade in 1988 from Oregon Douglas-fir. It stands on the same spot as the 1814 original and is similar in design.
The sight of the great flag flying over Fort McHenry on September 14, 1814, inspired Francis Scott Key to write this poem. Later it was set to music and became our National Anthem.