Riverdale Park officials hoisted a 15-star version of the American flag at Town Hall on Thursday to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
As the replica of the historic Star-Spangled Banner was raised, Mayor Vernon Archer and others in attendance sang the national anthem—a song whose lyrics were partly inspired by the same colors two centuries earlier.
The flag is due to fly above the town's offices through 2014 as part of ongoing commemorations of the conflict throughout the region.
“People do not know as much about the War of 1812 as they do about the Civil War, World War I and II, and the Vietnam conflict,” Councilmember David Lingua said following last week's ceremony.
The idea to fly the historic flag came after attending a smiliar event at Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Lingua said.
“I wanted to find the way to do more to commemorate what happened 200 years ago and to raise awareness of what this area contributed in the past," Lingua said.
At his urging, the Town Council authorized staff earlier this month to use the 15-star version over the next two years.
Ed Day, director of Riversdale House Museum, said it's a good time for people to learn more about the history of the war and the culture of the era.
During the war, American troops failed to stop British soldiers from marching through Washington D.C., where they ravaged government buildings including the U.S. Capitol and the White House.
The conflict was a wakeup call for the U.S. to reorganize its military, Lingua said.
Two years later, American forces were able to repel land and sea attacks during the Battle of Baltimore, culminating in the successful defense of Fort McHenry on Sept. 13, 1814.
The victory prompted Francis Scott Key to write "The Defense of Fort McHenry," a poem which later became the lyrics to the national anthem.
“We lost badly in the beginning but we were able to overcome the challenge and go on to prevail,” Day said, adding that children especially would learn from knowing the mistakes written in the nation's history.
Thursday's flag-raising was timed to the 198th anniversary of the battle.