This weekend was the Star Spangled Celebration, Baltimore’s party in honor of the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore near the end of the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner that night (or inspired by that night), and even though it didn’t become the national anthem until 1931, you’d think the way we’ve been acting these days that the country was founded that very night by this very song. I’ve been super interested in how we remember this unmemorable war since I started biking out to Chalmette National Battlefield, where they act like the war was the birth of a happy multiracial country just because Creole folks fought alongside Jean Lafitte (not just a pirate–a slave trader, but they always leave that part out) at the Battle of Orleans. Then I got to Baltimore, where the Battle of Orleans is a footnote and the whole war is about this one battle and the flag and the song. I’ve become exhausted by the whole business of this war memory party, to be honest, especially since they always leave out the complicated bits, like how this was the most contested war in US history, or the part where those opposing the war in Baltimore were violently attacked, or how enslaved people stayed that way, unless they joined the British, and then they ended up in the far reaches of Canada, or that part where after the war all treaties signed with American Indian tribes were trashed again and western expansion led to a whole new round of genocide. But hey, GO AMERICA! So on Saturday I hopped on the bike, and the ladyfriend hopped on hers, and we rode down to Mount Vernon for breakfast (I had a drink to ease myself into the day) and a trip to the Maryland Historical Society, where we learned a little bit about a lot of things, and not much about a whole lot of others. It was a rainy day, and we resisted the pull of the big crowds downtown, choosing instead to sip coffee and watch people at the Walters as we waited for the rain to stop. And then we went outside and it took about two minutes to get caught up in the city’s weekend pastime of looking up and trying to find the Blue Angels. I barely just got this shot–that’s the plane there, that speck between the two buildings. Is it triggering to have planes flying low between buildings near September 11? How about the sound of the planes? Does that trigger those who’ve been in war, either as the ones dropping the bombs or the ones being dropped on? My dad told me once that the sound of the planes still triggers in him a sense of relief–while serving in Vietnam, that sound meant you were about to be plucked out of the horrors of ground war, that for a short time it would end. My dad’s a pacifist now, like a lot of veterans, but that doesn’t meant he sound doesn’t trigger relief, even if it meant horror for others. It has been interesting to see the reaction of so many people who have never been close to war and the assumption that the sound could only and always mean fear. It’s as if some people are remembering something they’ve got now experience of at all. And that’s what happened all weekend. We eventually did make it down to the harbor for a brief runaround and a whole lot of people watching. And we didn’t have to pay $30 for parking, so there’s that.