Senator Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD) today announced that the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has unanimously approved legislation that he has introduced that would establish a "Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail," and highlight the historical significance of Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia in the early struggles of our young Nation during the War of 1812. A hearing was held on July 28 on the proposed national historic trail legislation.
The legislation, S. 958, would establish the "Star Spangled Banner Trail" in the States of Maryland and Virginia and the District of Columbia as a National Historic Trail. The National Historic Trails system commemorates major routes of historic travel and mark major events that have shaped our American history. To date, 16 National Historic Trails have been established including the Lewis and Clark, the Pony Express, Selma to Montgomery, and Trail of Tears National Historic Trails. To be designated as a National Historic Trail, a trail must meet three basic criteria: it must be nationally significant, have a documented route through maps or journals, and provide recreational opportunities.
"The War of 1812 marks a turning point in the early development of the United States," said Sarbanes. "The designation of the route of the British invasion of Washington and the American defense of Baltimore as a National Historic Trail will serve as a reminder of the importance of the concept of liberty to all who experience the Star-Spangled Banner Trail. It will also give long overdue recognition to those patriots whose determination to stand firm against enemy invasion and bombardment preserved this liberty for future generations of Americans."
The sites along the National Historic Trail would mark some of the most important events of the War of 1812. The trail, commemorating the only combined naval and land attack on the United States, begins with the June 1814 battles between the British Navy and the American Chesapeake Flotilla in St. Leonard's Creek in Calvert County, and ends at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, site of the composition of our National Anthem, and the ultimate defeat of the British.
"With the bi-centennial of the War of 1812 approaching, I believe it is important for us to highlight the rich heritage of Maryland and the region in preserving our young Nation's freedom and I applaud the Committee for today's actions," Sarbanes added.
The bill will now go to the full Senate for consideration and approval. Congressman Ben Cardin has introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.