NYT has an interesting feature on the flag from Fort McHenry that was immortalized in Francis Scott Key’s “Star Spangeled Banner.”

I saw it a few months back when touring Smithsonian’s Museum of American History. I’m afraid there’s not much left of it at this stage. “Protecting” it by not letting the public see it strikes me as utterly pointless and, unfortunately, even the resources of the Smithsonian don’t seem adequate to restore it to its former glory.

National Museum of American History
A composite of the Star-Spangled Banner, made of 72 close-ups of the flag, in its laboratory. Because the huge flag is lying flat, taking an overall photograph is not possible. This is the first picture of the side of the flag that since 1914 had been covered by backing.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. jen says:

    Interesting to note that it has 14 stars. I never noticed that before.

  2. James Joyner says:

    I’m guessing there was a 15th star under that hole–there’s only two stars on the one row.

  3. April says:

    As I recall, someone snipped the 15th star as a souvenir–much like people snipped other pieces of it over the years.

  4. jen says:

    Ah, yes. See, I’m observant, but not super-observant. 😆

  5. bryan says:

    Well, it looks in pretty good shape in the picture, anyway. A nice photo for the fourth.