Friday, October 21, 2016

Fort McHenry

Today we took a Rivendell field trip to Fort McHenry!  I've wanted to visit here for many years.  Back in 2002, on the 1 year anniversary of 9/11, Bob was on a longer TDY to DC, and the kids and I joined him.  He took leave for the day, and we went to the Inner Harbor.  We had planned on visiting Ft. McHenry as well, but somehow we got distracted and couldn't get over there before it closed.  Oh well, we'll go back sometime, and we especially thought that when we PCD's to DC in 2004.  Ha!  We never made it.  We had another field trip scheduled several years ago, but there was some tropical storm or something on that day, and so we cancelled.  FINALLY we made it there today!  We were worried about the weather, but it was an absolutely gorgeous morning!

We immediately headed over to the fort so we could be there for the changing of the flag at 10:00.  They selected a Civil War era flag to fly today.  It was big--about 120 square feet--but that was nothing compared to the size of the flag that was flying on Sept. 14, 1814, which was over 1,000 square feet!  The kids got to help unfold the flag before it went up the pole.  It flew nicely in the brisk wind!
Then we headed back over to the visitor's center to go through the exhibits and watch the short movie, which was really well-done.  I loved hearing the Spar-Spangled Banner at the end of it, and watching as the screen was raised so we were looked out a wall of windows at the fort with the flag flying high.  Very moving!

There was a huge group of 5th graders watching the movie with us, and we purposed that we would leap out of there at the end so we could get a jump on them in the actual fort.  We did, and we had a lovely time visiting the buildings.  Most of the time, we were the only ones in a room, and there was plenty of room for the kids to run around on the ramparts.  It was perfect!
Here we are in one of the barracks rooms for enlisted guys.  Ten beds, but 20 men slept here.  Tight squeeze, because the beds weren't all that wide!  The men slept on hay mattresses, which reminded me our our tour of VMI.
Verity had been crabby all morning, and here she demonstrates that what she really needed was a nap, although maybe not on a hard bed like this.
Here is Drew with a statue of Major George Armistead, the commander of Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812.  He was the one who commissioned the huge flag that flew the morning Francis Scott Key saw it.  He wanted "a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty seeing it from a distance."  I love that quote!
Next the kids ran around all over the ramparts.  This was really a great field trip for boys, because unlike a museum, they could run and jump all over the place, especially with the beautiful weather.  I could have stayed a lot longer, enjoying the view out over the water, but it was actually quite warm out there, even with the breeze, and I was roasting.  I felt bad that I had told the boys to wear pants because for some reason I had though it was going to be cold.
They had these cool "hobbit holes" behind where the cannons were.  There was another hole on the other side of this big mound, so they probably connected in a tunnel, but there were no plaques or anything to confirm that.
Verity obviously didn't have that great of a time, even as we were finishing up.  Poor grumpy baby!  She was not ready to wake up this morning!

Interesting side note:  as we were walking back, we saw several women who had head coverings and dressed in long skirts, but it didn't look like Muslim covering.  Then we saw that their boys had yarmukles, and even some boys had the really long front (side?) locks (the ones right in front of the ears), so obviously they were Jewish.  Later I saw a rabbi too, so I assumed it was just a field trip of a Jewish school or something (and that might in fact have been what it was).  But once we got home I was reading something on a message board posted by a Jewish woman.  She was apologizing that her answer was so brief, but it is the Feast Of Tabernacles right now, and the custom is to take children on outings!  So maybe that's what we were seeing!
One last group shot in the visitors center.
We finished up with a picnic lunch overlooking the harbor behind us--and this lovely statue of an almost naked giant man in front of us.  He had the barest of a leaf over his critical parts, and since he was 24 feet tall, on top of a 15 ft. tall pedestal of marble, it was really something.  We googled who he was when we got home, and it turns out that he was supposed to be Orpheus, the Greek god of music and poetry, and NOT a representation of Francis Scott Key.  That would have been a little too familiar, and I'm sure Key's descendants are all relieved, lol.  Apparently it was more of an "allegorical approach" to honoring Key and his writing of the National Anthem.  Interesting.  Here is a post I found with pictures of him closer up, in case you are now really curious.  LOL!
Ahh, Verity is finally happy--after lunch and Oreos.  She did take a nice nap on the way home!
One last picture of Ft. McHenry from behind, from where we were having our picnic.  It was a beautiful day!

As we were driving home, there were dark clouds amassing over D.C.--a very fitting picture for right now, I think.  It rained on the way home, but thankfully it stopped, because Luke, Caleb, and Jonathan are all running in a cross country meet this afternoon, and I was hoping they could not be miserable!  

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