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"By Dawn's Early Light," a historic flag-raising ceremony, took place in Baltimore on September 14th this year, 200 years since it first occurred.

My brother-in-law, Corlyn Paulsen, brought it to my attention that the “Star Spangled Banner” was celebrating a birthday, and that, along with the news about this event aroused my curiosity to want to look into some of the interesting things I didn't know or remember about it. Yes, I knew it was written by Francis Scott Key, and some facts about it, but I wanted to learn more.

Members of the U.S. Army's 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, along with the help of Civil War of 1812 re-enactors, made history as they hoisted a 15-star, 15-stripe, full-size flag over Fort McHenry. The flag was a 30-foot by 42-foot replica of the flag that had been raised 200 years ago.  The original event was what had inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Defense of Fort McHenry,” which later became our national anthem. As this flag raising took place at 9 that morning it was recorded that guns blasted and a crowd of onlookers fell silent.

Former Secretary of State and retired Army General Colin. L. Powell was called upon to be the guest speaker for the reenactment of the event. Powell stated, "It is a great pleasure for me to be here at this historic site and in this historic city of Baltimore as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of our Star Spangled Banner." 

Powell added, "The American flag is a piece of cloth I have loved all my life and have served under for 40 years."

Yes, It may be a piece of cloth but it is symbolic for all that it stands for.

During the war of 1812 the British had taken Dr. William Beanes of Maryland and held him as their prisoner aboard a warship in Chesapeake Bay. Two Americans, Francis Scott Key and John S. Skinner, both of Washington, D.C. had received permission from the Secretary of State at the time, James Monroe, to communicate with the British in hopes of securing the release of Dr. Beanes. The two men boarded the warship just as the vessel was preparing to bombard Fort McHenry, which was protecting the city of Baltimore. The British did agree to release Beanes but they held all three of the Americans on the U.S. vessel at the rear of the British fleet until the battle ended, so that the men could not reveal plans of the attack to patriots on shore.

The bombardment started on the 13th of September and continued all that day into the night. The three men paced the deck all night, as they knew that the Fort had little defense. Even when dawn came, they were still not able to know who had won the battle as the smoke and haze was so thick.  Suddenly a break in the mist cleared the view and revealed one lone U.S. flag still flying over the walls at Fort McHenry.

That is when Francis Scott Key had been inspired to quickly pen a few lines of a poem about what he had witnessed "at dawn’s early light," following the bombardment of Fort McHenry from a British troopship which had been anchored a few miles away. 

That early light revealed one lone U.S. flag still flying over Fort McHenry at daybreak. It gave him proof that through the night "our flag was still there" and he pulled an unfinished letter from his pocket and wrote a few lines of what he had witnessed. Years later John Stafford Smith composed the music of what would later become our national anthem.

It is hard to believe that it took until the 1890s for our military to adopt Key’s song for ceremonial purposes. The first official step toward making "The Star Spangled Banner" our nation’s anthem occurred in 1889 when the Secretary of the Navy ordered it to be played at morning flag-raising ceremonies. By 1917 both the Army and the Navy considered the song to be the national anthem for ceremonial purposes.

Then in 1931, thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Reuben Ross Holloway, president of the Maryland State Society, United States Daughter of 1812, and Congressman J. Charles Linthicum of Baltimore, Congress elected to make the "Star Spangled Banner" the official national anthem of the United States.

Recently the city of Baltimore hosted a weeklong series of events at Fort McHenry, which commemorated the bicentennial of the historical Battle of Baltimore. More than 30 ships from the United States and foreign nations were all on hand for this grand event. 

Fort McHenry hosted a number of special events including several commemorative ceremonies, living history demonstrations, and interpretive programs. The Star Spangled Spectacular concluded on September 16th with an air show performance of the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels.

The Geneva Community has shown much pride over the silhouette of the Iwo Jima flag raising and I thought we should learn more about the importance of this special event in our minds as well.

Some of our Star Eagle readers have commented they like to read about events such as family and school reunions, birthdays and anniversaries, and birth and wedding announcements. In order to read about these important things we need our faithful readers to pass along the information to us. Also if you have an idea for a story that you think would be of interest to our readers, please contact me. 

If you have birthdays and anniversaries you would like include, or news to share please contact me via e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; by postal mail, P. O. Box 192, Geneva, MN 56035 or telephone, 507-256-4405.

This week’s birthdays and anniversaries include:

• Thursday, September 25th: Amelia Christine Powers, her third birthday: Maykayla Jayme Haberman, Trevor David Barber, Geraldine Vangen, Tom Lageson, Pat Conklin, Suzanne Enzenauer Skaar, Cameron & Dayna Schember, Kellen & Alison Utpadel, Dwight & Loretta Schewe, Harmony & Ryan Anderson, Amy & Rick Storlie, Wendy & Marty Schultz, Larry & Elaine Paulsen

• Friday, September 26th: Becky Tindal, Tammy Beenken, Lori Klemmensen Suchanek, Marc Horan, Verdel Humberg, Virginia Miller, James Henry Neidermeier, Connie Menefee Calderon, Lee Johnson, Marty & Lee Nelson

• Saturday, September 27th: Layla Grace Schultz, Judy Christensen, Naomi Wangsness, Mary Wayne, Gail Farr Christenson, Sara Holmes Wencl, Steve Lageson, Kristin Paulsen Zinke, Jacob Tasker, Chris Ritz, Katie Cameron, Eleanor Rodriguez, Carl Shadden, Daniel Van Kampen, Donna Mae McCamish, Kristin Severson, Lud Borchert, Jocelyn & Jason Heyer

• Sunday, September 28th: Madeline Schei, Kylie Lembke, Denise Hagen Olson, Mary Kasper Therneau, Mitch Vangen, Taff Worrell, Haley Mattson DuBois, Bunny Jepson, Miranda & Isiah Payton, Jerry & Ginger Thompson, Bill & Sharon Vavra, Jill & Todd Kubicek

• Monday, September 29th: Norrine Jensen, Gail Kaplan, Annette Flugum, Millie Flugum, Ellen Pence, Jenna Quimby, Kevin Klemmensen, Linda Schmidt, Fran Ladlie, Ron & Donna Sletten, Jason & Tara DeWight, Dave & Donna Maixner

• Tuesday, September 30th: Jordy Philip Klocek, his first; Chloe Walterman, Dean Hunt, Elmer & Joan Vanden Heuvel, Gilbert & Harriet Larson, Todd & Cheryl Utpadel, Amy & Shannon Vander Syde, Aaron & Jean Klemmensen, Tiffany & Luke Mueller, Kelly & Joshua Warke

• Wednesday, October 1st: Kaeli Wayne, Ana Renee Larson, Lois Plunkett, Larry Crabtree, Vince Bergdale, Brian Flor, Melinda Milan, Renae Thompson Weatherley, Lisa Lembke, Carl & Brenda Shadden, Barbara & William Conly

Wishing you a day of fond memories and new beginnings.


The Star-Spangled Banner....

  Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,

  What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?

  Whose board stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,

  O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

  And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

  Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.

  Oh! say, does the star-spangled banner yet wave.

  O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


  On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist of the deep,

  Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,

  What is that which the breeze o'er the towering steep,

  As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

  Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,

  In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream.

  "Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave

  O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


  And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

  That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion

  A home and a country should leave us no more?

  Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.

  No refuge could save the hireling and slave

  From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,

  And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

  O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


  Oh! thus be it ever when freemen shall stand

  Between their loved home and the war's desolation,

  Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n-rescued land

  Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation.

  Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

  And this be our motto, "In God is our trust."

  And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave.

  O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave. 

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