Star-Spangled Banner: Celebrating the Wartime Poem Turned National Anthem in Baltimore

In 1814, while witnessing a key battle of the War of 1812 in Baltimore’s harbor, Francis Scott Key penned the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” which would transform into the national anthem of the United States. To celebrate the 200th anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Great Performances presents Star-Spangled Spectacular: Bicentennial of Our National Anthem, a live, two-hour broadcast from Baltimore’s harbor on Saturday, September 13, hosted by John Lithgow and Jordin Sparks and featuring performances by Grammy-, Tony- and Emmy-winning stars.

In this preview of the Star-Spangled Spectacular week in Baltimore, MD, see the kinds of tall ships that helped win the War of 1812 against the British and one of the most modern U.S. Navy vessels today; get familiar with the family-run fireworks company that will light up the harbor on September 13; and find out why the American flag has come in so many shapes and sizes.