Had it not been for a Maryland doctor and a Baltimore-bred naval warrior, Francis Scott Key might never have seen "the rockets' red glare" or the "bombs bursting in air" that illuminated the "broad stripes and bright stars" over Fort McHenry, inspiring Key to write what became the National Anthem.
It was August 1814, in the second year of the second and little-remembered U.S. war with the British. That war is memorable for many Americans because Francis Scott Key commemorated the defense of Baltimore by composing a poetic tribute that has become the national anthem. But who Key was and how he came to be an observer of the events he immortalized is lesser known. And the fact that Key was by no means the principal actor in those events is even more obscure.