On the evening, of September 13, 1814, British warships in Baltimore harbor threatened the sovereignty of the United States. They had already burned Washington, D.C. As they bombarded Fort McHenry, the fate of our new nation was uncertain.
Francis Scott Key, an attorney and Frederick County's native son, saw the battle unfold from behind enemy lines. He had journeyed out to-the British fleet to negotiate the release of an American prisoner. Through the night and into the early morning the fight raged on.
The flag that Key saw at dawn was the largest American flag anyone had ever witnessed. The emotions that Key felt at seeing the flag, and knowing that our nation's independence was secure, prompted him to write The Star Spangled Banner.
Francis Scott Key lies beneath the monument in front of you, and within view of Catoctin Mountain which he loved from his youth. With him in the cemetery beyond are the graves of hundreds of veterans from the War of 1812. In his immortal song that later became our national anthem, Key celebrated American freedom and honored its defenders.