|Friday, Sep 21, 2012|
The bicentennial of the War of 1812 received primetime national coverage on Monday, September 10th, as park staff and volunteers from the Fort McHenry Guard presented the colors for the playing of the national anthem as part of a Monday night football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals.
“The red, white and blue received a healthy dose of purple today,” said Shannon McLucas, seasonal park guide, referring to the Ravens' team colors.
Dressed in the uniforms of the War of 1812, the Fort McHenry Guard marched down the entire length of the football field before a sellout crowd of over 71,000 fans.
“The roar of the crowd was deafening,” said ranger Jim Bailey. “I saw seasonal visitor use assistants Seamus Ertel and Tyler Mink almost trembling with excitement as we marched out – right behind the Cincinnati Bengals.”
Their appearance at the Monday night football game introduced the War of 1812 to a whole new audience. Announcers highlighted 2012 as the start of the bicentennial commemoration and ESPN carried the opening ceremonies, which included the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Even the coin toss that opened the game had an 1812 theme.
“Maryland Olympian Michael Phelps didn’t just throw any coin, he tossed the War of 1812 bicentennial commemorative coin issued by the U.S. Mint,” said Bill Pencek, deputy assistant secretary for the Maryland Division of Tourism.
Best of all, the 1812 theme had a ripple effect, with images showing up on countless Facebook sites and other forms of social media.
“I love it when the park does these out-of-the box events – engaging new audiences is the way we get more visitors,” says Vince Vaise, the park’s chief of interpretation. “A lot of young kids think football and football players are cool, so if you associate history and the War of 1812 with that they just might think that history is cool too – at least you get it on their radar screen.”
The unique 15-star, 15-stripe Star-Spangled Banner of 1814 now flies continuously over both Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens play, as well as at state and municipal buildings throughout the city.
The home states of each of these football teams, Ohio and Maryland, saw much action in the conflict. War of 1812 NPS sites in Maryland include the Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail and Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio commemorates a crucial American naval victory on Lake Erie and the longstanding peace between the U.S., Canada and Great Britain.
Several hundred out-of-state Bengals fans visited the fort the weekend before the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 44-13.