Star-Spangled Spectacular

July 27, 2014
Dear Friend,
Two hundred years ago, our Nation was embroiled in what many historians refer to as the “Second War of Independence.” When the War of 1812 began, our fragile experiment in democracy was still in its early stages, and the Nation found itself under attack from one of the most powerful countries in the world. Many wondered whether this fledgling democracy could hold together through the trials of war. In the coming days, we can all take pride in celebrating the Bicentennial of local events that helped secure American victory and set the stage for the spread of democracy around the world.
In August 1814, British forces landed in Charles County, Maryland to prepare for an assault on Washington, DC. The subsequent battles, later referred to as the Chesapeake campaign, include some of the most dramatic moments in American history – from the burning of the U.S. Capitol and White House to the successful defense of Fort McHenry that turned the war’s tide.

Maryland is blessed with a multitude of historic and cultural attractions across the State. Fort McHenry is a classic example of this rich heritage. For decades, my family has enjoyed Fort McHenry's history as well as its tremendous vistas of our beloved Chesapeake Bay. Francis Scott Key best captured the essence of Fort McHenry in his poem, “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” written as a prisoner aboard a British frigate during the bombardment of the fort. The text of the poem later became our National Anthem.

To celebrate these local landmarks and help set the stage for the Bicentennial, I authored legislation to create the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail. The bill became law in 2008. Today, the Trail is an important tool for visitors and local explorers alike as we celebrate the Bicentennial. It brings to life the historic events that unfolded in our own back yard like the June 1814 battles between the British Navy and the American Chesapeake flotilla in Saint Leonard's Creek in Calvert County; the Madison House in Brookeville, MD, which served as our nation’s capital for a day; and Fort McHenry in Baltimore, where our National Anthem was composed and the British met their ultimate defeat.

Commemoration of the historic events of the Bicentennial will culminate in the Star-Spangled 200 Celebration in Maryland, September 10-16, 2014. I will be participating along with many of my colleagues in the Congressional delegation, the Governor, and other state and local officials to help call attention to the rich historical legacy of our state. For more information, visit the new Star-Spangled Spectacular event website, which includes a full schedule of events such as visiting ships in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the Blue Angels air show, festivals, reenactments, live concerts, fireworks and more. The Spectacular website, as well as and, are terrific tools for planning an outing with friends and family.

As demonstrated by the June 2012 Sailabration, which kicked off the War of 1812 Bicentennial events in Maryland, the economic benefits of this celebration will indeed be spectacular. Sailabration attracted an estimated 1.54 million visitors over the seven-day event, with a total economic impact of $166.1 million generated by the spending of visitors. For every $1 spent, more than $35 was generated in direct and indirect impact for the Maryland economy. Even greater crowds, and economic benefits, are expected this year. So make our out-of-town guests feel welcome and let’s all honor the War of 1812 Bicentennial!


Congressman John P. Sarbanes
Maryland's Third Congressional District