U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

Letters From Ben


Old Glory

Dear Fellow Marylanders,

The history books say that in the midst of the War of 1812, Baltimore resident Mary Pickersgill was asked by General Samuel Smith to make a flag “so large that the British will have no difficulty seeing it from a distance.” That flag – 30-feet tall and 42-feet wide – was raised and flown over Fort McHenry during the famous Battle of Baltimore in 1814. Mary Pickersgill’s flag became the inspiration for the poem written by Francis Scott Key, which would eventually become our country’s national anthem and help shape our national identity.

For over 200 years, Maryland and the American flag have been interconnected. So it goes without saying that yesterday (June 14), Flag Day, is usually a pretty big deal for many Marylanders.  

Flag Day is a time to celebrate our nation’s banner and the values of freedom, democracy, equality and opportunity for which it stands. The American flag honors those who have fought for our freedoms and rights. It is a sign of resilience and courage.

Ours is not a perfect nation, though we strive every day to be a better place for all. Our flag therefore also is a symbol of hope and potential, promise and determination.

Of late, there are some among us who have taken to flying the American flag upside-down for political purposes. This lack of respect is an affront to American values and traditions.

Not only on Flag Day, but everyday, Americans should be unified behind our marquis symbol of justice and unity. When we show respect to our flag – standing, peacefully kneeling, or crossing a hand over heart – we show respect to our nation, our fellow citizens, and all the United States of America should be. The American flag should inspire us to serve as ambassadors of the best values that guide our country and chart our course forward.

Together, we can realize the vision of America that treats everyone with dignity and respect.

In the spirit of Francis Scott Key, we also remember the six souls lost earlier this year when the Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Patapsco River in Baltimore tragically collapsed. We honor the memory of José Mynor López, Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, Maynor Yasir Suazo-Sandoval, Carlos Daniel Hernandez Estrella, and Miguel Angel Luna Gonzalez, and we keep their families in our thoughts and prayers.

Related to the bridge collapse, earlier this week, we celebrated the complete reopening of the Fort McHenry Federal Channel, restoring full operations at the Port of Baltimore just 11 weeks since the cargo ship Dali ran into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing the collapse and shutting down most port operations. This was accomplished in record time thanks to the expertise, determination and grit of the Unified Command and all of the key partners at the federal, state and local levels who have been focused on this urgent task.

Clearing the debris and reopening the federal shipping channel, so that we can restore Baltimore’s leadership among the nation’s ports and our region’s economic engine, have been essential. Simultaneously, Team Maryland has focused on following precedent and President Joe Biden’s pledge that the federal government will cover 100% of the cost of replacing the bridge. We are united in this mission and will do all we can to make it happen.

Thank you for your time. Please feel free to reply to this email with your thoughts on this or any other topic. If you can, send me a photo of an American flag flying at your home or somewhere you saw one in Maryland. I would love to see it.

Until next week,


Ben Cardin