Boats played a key role in the evolution of “the flag” as a national symbol. During the War of 1812, a fleet of British warships sailed from Bermuda to terrorize the Chesapeake Bay, sack and burn Washington, DC, and attack Baltimore Harbor. It was the success of Fort McHenry in defending Baltimore in 1814 that led Francis Scott Key to write his famous poem, “The Star-Spangled Banner” (from the deck of a sailboat). It took another hundred years before one stanza of that poem was adopted by Congress as our national anthem.
A separate and slightly less famous flag, “Old Glory,” was flown around the world on the stern of an American whaling ship.
The thread of Boats and the Flag is explored in the July 2009 issue of Soundings. This story won an honorable mention in the 2010 Boating Writers International writing contest.