Fort Clatsop Park Honors History and Keeps the Flag Flying

The American flag served as a bold symbol on the Lewis and Clark journey, growing stronger throughout time. Fort Clatsop park keeps the legacy going.

When Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out on their famous expedition the American flag represented a brand new nation. And in 1805 they proudly hoisted the stars and stripes up above Fort Clatsop park for all approaching men to see. Only eight years later that flag inspired the emotional words of the National Anthem.

Fort Clatsop Park

Since those earlier settler years, Fort Clatsop transformed into a park open to the public with Matt Hensley as a park ranger. Volunteers and members of the community routinely host living history programs there and a guided walk where visitors can learn about the rich past of the fort. A new addition includes a “Star Spangled Banner” talk that will both start and end programs throughout the day.

On Lewis and Clark’s journey, they brought with them several American flags. They used the flags as markers whenever they camped in a spot for any period of time and served as a symbol for the young nation as the two men set out to explore new land.  Now by this time, the stars and stripes both grew to 15 each. In 1792, an additional two stars and stripes were added to the original 13 when Vermont and Kentucky joined the union.

Lewis and Clark

Hensley believes, “At the time of Lewis and Clark this flag didn’t have the great meaning that it has now. We’re a brand new nation. We’re just in the beginning throes of our history as an independent nation.” In fact, it was not until after the War of 1812, the second war with Great Britain, that the American flag really became the expressive symbol people know it as today.

During the War of 1812 one poet by the name of Francis Scott Key found the inspiration for The Star Spangled Banner. Originally titled “The Defense of Fort McHenry,” the poem was quickly set to music and re-titled to “The Star Spangled Banner.” By 1818 more states joined the Union and a new flag was in order for the growing country. At that time Congress returned to the original 13 stripes and decided to only add a new star for each additional state.

Credit: Daily Astorian

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