Fort McHenry hon­ors ca­su­al­ties 200 years apart

Cer­e­mony re­mem­bers 1814’s Bat­tle of Bal­ti­more and 2001’s 9/11 at­tacks

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Colin Camp­bell cm­camp­bell@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/cm­camp­bell6

Un­der a gi­ant, flap­ping Amer­i­can flag at Fort McHenry Sun­day, War of 1812 reen­ac­tors stood solemnly at at­ten­tion as vis­i­tors took turns read­ing aloud the names of Mary­lan­ders who died dur­ing two sep­a­rate at­tacks on U.S. soil.

First were the names of the 45 sol­diers killed in the Bat­tle of Bal­ti­more from Sept. 12 through 14, 1814, from “Pvt. Gre­go­ri­ous An­dre, Union Yagers, 5th Mary­land” to “Pvt. Isaac Woolf, Bal­ti­more Union Greens, 27th Mary­land.”

Then came those of the 69 Mary­lan­ders who died at the Pen­tagon, the World Trade Cen­ter and aboard United Air­lines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001.

The dual memo­rial ser­vice rec­og­nized both De­fend­ers’ Day, which com­mem­o­rates the bat­tle that in­spired Fran­cis Scott Key to write “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner,” and the 15th an­niver­sary of the at­tacks that would shape the coun­try for years to come.

“Just as we honor the old de­fend­ers of Bal­ti­more who you’ve spo­ken of, and honor those neigh­bors we lost 15 years ago to­day, we seek also to honor those who walk their pa­trols, who stand their posts and who run into the fire for all of us,” Park Ranger Shan­non McLu­cas told the group.

Few of the dozens of vis­i­tors could have known that David Cole, who stood in a Fort McHenry quar­ter­mas­ter’s uni­form among the re-en­ac­tors, had been given a somber task fol­low­ing the 9/11 at­tacks: sort­ing through vic­tims’ be­long­ings.

Cole, 68, of Sev­ern, had served in Op­er­a­tion Desert Storm. But he said no ex­pe­ri­ence came close to go­ing through the shoes, watches and other per­sonal items of those who were killed in the Pen­tagon that day.

“The hard­est thing I ever did was the Pen­tagon,” said Cole, who is re­tired from the Army Re­serve. “It was very dif­fi­cult and emo­tional.”

As a civil­ian prop­erty of­fi­cer for the Pen­tagon, Cole also was charged with keep­ing track of the Amer­i­can flag that was mem­o­rably draped over the site fol­low­ing the at­tack.

“While I wasn’t the one who hung it out, I Sailors par­tic­i­pate in a joint cer­e­mony to honor dead from the War of 1812 and the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks. was as­signed to make sure it didn’t go away, that it was pre­served,” he said.

The flag, which be­came a piece of Amer­i­can his­tory the in­stant it was un­furled over the build­ing, has been sent to the U.S. Army Mu­seum Sys­tem, Cole said.

Cole said he has been vol­un­teer­ing as a re-en­ac­tor at Fort McHenry for seven years, and he en­joyed Sun­day’s ser­vice.

“It’s nice that peo­ple re­mem­ber,” he said. “This new gen­er­a­tion is a so­ci­ety that’s so fo­cused on change, what’s new, what’s next. All of us ap­pre­ci­ate stop­ping once in a while to ap­pre­ci­ate those whowe­wouldn’t be here with­out.”

One par­tic­i­pant in the cer­e­mony ad­justed a wreath as the names were read; others ended the brief ser­vice with a his­tor­i­cal rendition of the na­tional an­them.

The re­cent con­tro­versy over San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick re­fus­ing to stand for the na­tional an­them has prompted Fort McHenry vis­i­tors to fur­ther scru­ti­nize Key’s legacy dur­ing their tours, McLu­cas said.

Kaeper­nick, who is bira­cial, has said he would not stand to honor “a coun­try that op­presses black peo­ple and peo­ple of color,” where “there are bod­ies in the street and peo­ple get­ting paid leave and get­ting away with mur­der.”

Sup­port­ers of the quar­ter­back’s protest pointed out that Key owned slaves and helped spark Washington’s first race riot in 1835. The an­them’s sel­dom-sung third verse refers to the blood of Bri­tish hirelings and slaves wash­ing out “their foul footsteps’ pol­lu­tion.”

Fort McHenry’s rangers wel­come the chance to delve into Key’s legacy — and his com­plex record on race, McLu­cas said.

“The dis­cus­sion is worth hav­ing,” McLu­cas said. “It started peo­ple want­ing to learn more about their his­tory, which is what we try to do at the Na­tional Park Ser­vice.”

Staff Sgt. Steven Rid­dle, 30, of Finks­burg, stopped by the cer­e­mony with fel­low mem­bers of the Army Re­serve dur­ing a drilling break. It was his first trip to Fort McHenry.

For aser­vice mem­ber, Rid­dle said, hear­ing the names read aloud “gives you a re­al­iza­tion of ev­ery­thing you’ve done, the rea­son why you joined, the rea­son why you stayed.”

Gene and Jen Mac­Far­lane of Mount Airy brought daugh­ters Noel, 11, and Holly, 6, and Gene’s mother, Bev­erly, to the fort for the day.

“It’s nice to com­mem­o­rate the events that hap­pened 200 years ago and 15 years ago,” Gene McFar­lane said.

COLIN CAMP­BELL/BAL­TI­MORE SUN PHO­TOS

Re-en­ac­tors par­tic­i­pate in a cer­e­mony at Fort McHenry that com­mem­o­rated De­fend­ers’ Day and the Sept. 11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

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