The Star-Spangled Banner yet waves anew

A replica of the original "Star-Spangled Banner" flies above Fort McHenry in Baltimore.
CBS News

(CBS News) Oh, say can you see what folks along Baltimore harbor so proudly hailed at the twilight's last gleaming yesterday?

'Tis the star-spangled banner, or rather, an exact replica of the banner that flew over Fort McHenry when it was under British bombardment 199 years ago this weekend . . . a turning point in the War of 1812.

"People are still trying to figure out what it means to be an American, to be a citizen of this country," said Kristin Schenning is director of education of the Maryland Historical Society. "And symbols like the flag and the anthem, they come out of this conflict.

"A lot of things come out of the War of 1812 that help us define who we are as Amercians. And I think the flag as a symbol became linked to the writing of the national anthem, 'Defence of Fort McHenry,' or 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' "

The actual banner is on display in a place of honor in the National Museum of American History in Washington . . . minus some snippets that were given away as souvenirs to War of 1812 veterans.

The 30-foot by 34-foot Star-Spangled Banner, on exhibit at the American Museum of National History in Washington, D.C. Smithsonian

This summer, a team of quilters took on the task of not only recreating the flag but doing so using the same painstaking process as the original flag maker, Mary Pickersgill.

Pickersgill was "one of those forgotten heroes of the United States," said Schenning. "And she's a fascinating woman. She was in her mid-30s when she made the 'Star-Spangled Banner' flag. She completes it in six weeks. That's really a feat."

"This is a huge flag. It took an awful lot of sewing. She would have been using candles."

Back then she had only a handful of people to help her. This project took nearly 200 volunteers sewing for six weeks straight, all by hand, just as Pickersgill did.

No small feat given the flag's size, 42 x 30 feet.

"We estimated the number of stitches to be about 150,000," said Schenning. "That, I think now, is a low estimate."