This stamp commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner. The stamps image is a photo of the flag flying over Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. It was taken during a fireworks display at the annual Defenders Day celebration.
During the War of 1812, Mary Pickersgill was commissioned to sew a large flag, so the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance. The flag was to fly over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, which the British hoped to capture.
The British began bombarding Fort McHenry on September 13, 1814. Francis Scott Key witnessed the 25-hour assault from a ship in Chesapeake Bay. Because it was raining heavily, Key likely saw the smaller flag at twilight the last gleaming. But as morning neared, the oversized flag was defiantly hoisted above Fort McHenry. The sight inspired Key to write lyrics about the star-spangled banner.
If not for fate, the Battle of Fort McHenry would have had a more explosive ending. Only the forts commander knew its gunpowder magazine, over which some 2,000 shells fell, was not bombproof. A direct hit would have destroyed the fort instantly.
Gary Clark was the photographer for the stamps image. He said it was difficult to get the fireworks and the flag simultaneously because it was windy the night he took the photo at the Defenders Day celebration.