Ft. Meade, South Dakota the birthplace of our National Anthem
In traveling the country we often discover great stories, friendly citizens, western legends past and present and always interesting places that beg to be told. Off the beaten path Cowboy Lifestyle Network happened to find a 39-star American flag along with the birthplace of our National Anthem.
Fort Meade is located outside of present day Sturgis, South Dakota off Interstate 90. It was a former military outpost for cavalry between 1878-1944, which included infantry units, the Buffalo Soldiers and 4th, 7th and 10th U.S. Cavalry among its residents over the years.
When Colonel Caleb H. Carlton took command of the Eighth Cavalry at Fort Meade in 1892, he and Mrs. Carlton discussed the fact that while other nations had their National Anthems, the United States had none; we were already 116 years old. Thus began at the suggestion of Mrs. Carlton to her husband “THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER” be played at retreat ceremonies and at the close of parades, concerts and all persons within hearing to rise, and all men not under arms to remove their hats – source museum documents, Ft. Meade.
Twenty-two years later in 1914 the post commander, Carlton, explained the custom to South Dakota Governor Sheldon. In turn it was Pennsylvania Govern Hastings who Carlton spoke with at a reception that expressed his intent to have the military adopt the custom. Nearly 40 years later Congress passed a bill, signed by President Herbert Hoover, officially designating “THE START SPANGLED BANNER” as our National Anthem.
Fort Meade today is used for military training by the National Guard and is owned by the Veterans Administration. In the 1880s when gold was discovered in the Black Hills the settlements needed a military presence for peacekeeping missions and to assist with Native American relations as pioneers pushed toward the west. Don’t miss Bear Butte the landmark most visible from Ft. Meade when you visit in the near future. As for the 39-star flag its one of a kind made by a South Dakotan who projected South Dakota would enter the union first ahead of North Dakota. In reality they came in together and the papers were shuffled for 39 and 40 statehoods.
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