While work is pending on the Veterans Park in downtown Mansfield, community residents still took time to honor veterans at the Mansfield Fire Hall.

Bruce Dark, commander of the American Legion, was the featured speaker. His talk involved the symbolism of the flag and how it inspired the national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.

“The American flag is rich with symbolism about the history of our nation,” said Dart. “For example, the flag symbolizes such important sentiments as freedom, liberty, justice, and the sacrifices of all the brave men and women fighting and dying to protect the country. The flag also represents hope in general, from the first hope for a new nation in 1776 and the hope for the American Dream still to this day.”

At 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 13, 1814, the first of an estimated 1,800 cast-iron bomb shells were hurled at the masonry walls of Fort McHenry in the Baltimore harbor.

On a merchant ship were Prisoner Exchange Agent Colonel John Stuart Skinner and Georgetown lawyer Francis Scott Key, who days earlier met with British Admiral George Cockburn to negotiate the release of William Beanes, who was to be hanged after refusing to give food and drink to British soldiers who had stopped at his house. The men were successful but, since they were with the British fleet in the harbor, and privy to the British’s positions and plans to attack Baltimore, unable to return to shore.

The watched the battle through the night and the next morning as a 30- by 42-foot U.S. flag was raised for reveille. The British, running low on ammunition, gave up the battle, returned Skinner, Key and Beans to shore and retreated. During the night, Key had penned the words to a poem, “The Defence of Fort McHenry,” which his brother-in-law later set to music.

“Veterans Day is important to honor our veterans; our national flag is important; and our national anthem is important. They all go together. We need them all,” Dart said.

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