Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Becoming American, without Losing Roots OLA: Maryland

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Becoming American, without Losing Roots OLA: Maryland

Carol, contemplating her move, at the American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, Md.
Greenbelt Park, Greenbelt, Maryland
just 12 miles from Washington DC
We passed through Maryland, visiting the Annapolis Naval Academy in 2008. But we discovered a lot more last week, exploring Baltimore and camping in Greenbelt Park in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Park, part of the National Park Service, is truly a hidden gem, just 12 miles from Washington and only a mile from the Greenbelt Station of the DC Metro. Nice serene, green space from which we toured DC!

Fort McHenry National Historic Monument
But Baltimore is truly the highlight of our Maryland experience. Fort McHenry is a star-shaped fort best known for its role in the War of 1812. Nearby towns having fallen, a 25-hour continuous bombardment of Baltimore was launched by the British navy in Chesapeake Bay. Seeing the American flag still flying from his ship in the early morning, Francis Scott Key was inspired to write a poem that began:

Francis Scott Key's statue looking at
the flying American flag at Fort McHenry 
O say can you see, 
by the dawn’s early light?

What so proudly we hailed 
at the twilight’s last gleaming.

The Star=Spangled Banner House
                                                      Yes, his poem became America’s National Anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner. So we proceeded to visit The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House. Built in 1793, it was the home of Mary Pickersgill and where she sewed the 15-star garrison flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore. The museum features a 30 by 42-foot window in the same color, size, and design as the original flag.

USS Constellation, the Pride of Baltimore at her Inner Harbor
Going to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor (previously the largest sea port in the US), we also had quite a time trying to get the best shot of the Pride of Baltimore, the USS Constellation. Commissioned in 1855, it was strategically used in the Civil War and served many purposes until 1933. She came to Baltimore in 1954 and is now a floating museum near the National Aquarium and the Baltimore Maritime Museum.

the WAshington Monument in Baltimore, Md
At the center of Baltimore, one cannot miss a towering monument, completed in 1829 to honor Washington. The 178 foot Doric column holds a ground-floor museum. Climbing the 228 steps to the top provides an excellent view of the city. The Washington Monument in Washington DC is much taller at 555 ft but was completed much later in 1884. Both monuments were designed by Robert Mills.

Edgar Allan Poe Memorial at the Westmister Burying Grounds
Edgar Allan Poe lived in Richmond, Virginia for about 14 years, hence the Museum that we found there. But he died in Baltimore and we went to the Westminster Church burying grounds and there we found the tomb of Edgar Allan Poe, beside his grandfather’s and alongside many more of their era. The Memorial to Poe, however, is located at the corner of the church grounds, visible to the streets.

the first line of the Star-Spangled Banner on the wall
of the American Visionary art Museum
The American Visionary Art Museum was also a nice find, its exterior proudly bearing the first line of the national anthem. We found a set of artsy chess pieces, each as big as I am! The car art caught my is like colorful artsy jeepneys that ply Philippine roads. This made me realize that I am still a Filipino, despite the intense American education I am getting cruising North America in an RV.

the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption
car art, much like the colorful jeepneys that ply Philippine roads
Finally, we could not miss visiting the 
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption. Completed in 1821, it was the first Roman Catholic cathedral ever built in the United States, and was the first major religious building constructed in the nation after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. It is considered the masterpiece of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the "Father of American Architecture". 

Such is the short trip we made to Maryland. But one is left with a definite sense of the significant role the state had, like Virginia, in the making of the great nation that America is! As a newly naturalized citizen, I am indeed very fortunate to be able to visit such places that bring to life the American story!  More and more I am becoming American...without losing my Filipino roots!