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News // Jun 7, 2016

Coast Guard families join Star-Spangled Banner buoy commissioning

  • Coast Guard Foundation

Every year the historic spot where Francis Scott Key penned the Star-Spangled Banner is recognized with a memorial buoy by the Coast Guard. For this year's event, the Coast Guard Foundation lent its support so local crew members and families could enjoy a reception on board the Coast Guard Cutter James Rankin before the buoy was set in Baltimore Harbor.

The memorial buoy painted with the stars and stripes of the American flag was placed in the harbor on June 6. This tradition of marking the spot began in 1914 when the first buoy was placed there as part of the celebrations recognizing the 100th anniversary of the historic song.

Coast Guard crew and family members enjoyed a reception on board the James Rankin before leaving port to witness the buoy being lowered as the Star Spangled Banner rang out over the exact spot Key was anchored in 1814 and wrote its famous verses.

News Buoy 1

Longtime supporter of the Coast Guard Foundation John Distelhorst with Foundation board members Sally Brice O’Hara and Jim O’Hare on board the Coast Guard Cutter James Rankin.

From the Coast Guard Mid-Atlantic blog:

"On Sept. 14, 1814, Key was a prominent Georgetown attorney, and he was aboard a flag-of-truce vessel, trying to secure the release of William Beanes, a Maryland doctor imprisoned by the British for arresting English soldiers near his home. It was then that 25 British ships began their bombardment of the port of Baltimore and Fort McHenry. Through the night, Key witnessed cannon and gunfire pummeling the fort, and, when he saw the flag still flying at dawn in an unbeaten defiance, he immortalized the scene in a four-verse poem.
"Originally titled “Defence of Fort M’Henry” by Key’s brother-in-law, a commander of a militia at Fort McHenry, the Star-Spangled Banner was printed and distributed to Fort McHenry soldiers, and later published in Baltimore newspapers.
“Key set the words to the tune of an old English song written by John Stafford Smith called “To Anacreon in Heaven,” and in 1931, it officially became the national anthem.”
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