After a decade’s conservation, the flag that inspired the National Anthem returns to its place of honor on the National Mall.
By Robert M. Poole for Smithsonian magazine, November 2008
Long before it flew to the moon, waved over the White House or was folded into tight triangles at Arlington National Cemetery; before it sparked fiery Congressional debates, reached the North Pole or the summit of Mount Everest; before it became a lapel fixture, testified to the Marines’ possession of Iwo Jima, or fluttered over front porches, firetrucks and construction cranes; before it inspired a national anthem or recruiting posters for two world wars, the American ensign was just a flag.
For the rest of Robert M. Poole’s splendid story in Smithsonian magazine, go here.
On Wednesday, President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush dedicated the renovated National Museum of American History. Today is the grand opening to the public, with retired Gen. Colin Powell scheduled to read President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
The original Star-Spangled Banner—the one that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired America’s National Anthem—had long been displayed in the museum, but for the past ten years it has been in the hands of conservationists, who have carefully preserved the fragile flag.
All photography from the Smithsonian web site.