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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

National Parks Week: Fort McHenry

Our family hit the road for a mini spring outing to Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland. Not realizing that it was National Parks Week, imagine our surprise when the park ranger announced, “Entrance is free this week!” (If you hurry, you can get in on this great deal, too.) It was a lovely way to start a visit to the fort holding off the British bombardment during the War of 1812, with the battle in September 1814 spurring the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

The exhibits in the small museum are informative and whimsical, allowing one to touch a huge cannon, view a model sailing ship, or look through peep holes to spy more background on the site. The introductory film is moving enough—after rehearsing the story of Francis Scott Key, a young Washington lawyer, and how he ended up sailing toward the British blockade to negotiate a prisoner’s release, and then watched the attack on Baltimore from afar, a rousing rendition of the national anthem is played as the movie screen rises to reveal the fort and the flag in full view through full-length picture windows. The audience rises in respect. Some wipe a tear from their eyes.

Not all of our kids totally understand the significance of Fort McHenry, not to mention any other pertinent facts surrounding it. Slowly, slowly. Emphasis on slowly.

“In which state is Baltimore located?” my husband quizzes them. Naturally, the ones that have no clue answer first.

“Philadelphia,” Pasha responds.

“That’s a city,” I reply.

“Pennsylvania,” says Sashenka, sure that her brother is on to something.

“No,” Benedetto sighs, having reviewed the info with them upteen times.

Entering the star-shaped fort sitting on its own peninsula, our family visits the soldiers’ barracks, the powder magazine, and the prison.

“This is where they kept the slaves, da, Papa?” our second son wonders.

“No, no slaves,” I tell him. “This was a war and there were prisoners of war,” I explain, considering if we might toss in the slammer this child for a week or two with bread, water, and a couple of books on history and geography.

The wind-blown site tuckers us out. We hope that they’ve gleaned something from the experience, climbing bunkers, reading maps, and looking out to sea. I notice a little pride on their faces as they scan a handwritten copy of the national anthem: they are becoming more and more connected with the history and sensibilities of their new land. They can relate in a personal way to the feeling of coming through a battle, and having freedom on the other side.

The national story is becoming part of their personal story. Not a paltry accomplishment for a couple hours’ time spent.

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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Phyllis says:

    So glad to hear that you get answers just like we do! : ) It is funny to read about it from another family, but I have a hareder time seeing the humor in it in our family.

    • avatar admin says:

      I’m with ‘ya, sister! I think there’s hidden cameras in the house and someone is playing a trick on us. Then I realize: this is reality-! Aiyyyhhh!!!

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