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Kids’ Spare Change Sought for Francis Scott Key Museum

August 7, 1996

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) _ O say can you ... spare a dime for a Francis Scott Key museum?

This western Maryland town has a Francis Scott Key Mall, a Francis Scott Key Lincoln-Mercury-Isuzu dealership and a minor league baseball team named after the town lawyer who wrote the words to ``The Star-Spangled Banner.″

But it has no museum dedicated to Key. So the guardians of his grave are asking the nation’s children to donate their small change to help create one.

``You’d be surprised the number of buses that come through here and there’s nothing for them to do except look at the monument,″ lamented J. Ronald Pearcey, superintendent of Mount Olivet Cemetery.

The museum would be housed in an existing stone chapel near the 16-foot bronze and granite Key monument that stands just inside the cemetery’s iron gates.

Pearcey’s planning committee for the monument’s 1998 centennial has received $17,000 in private donations toward the $50,000 museum project.

He said the idea of asking children to donate pennies, nickels and dimes is in keeping with the history of the monument, which was partially financed in the same way.

Key was stirred to poetry by the British bombardment of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry in 1814. The verses were later set to the tune of an English drinking song.

The cemetery superintendent, who has tended Key’s grave for 30 years, said he is stunned by the number of people who don’t know who Key was: ``I asked one girl and she said, `That’s who they named the mall after.′ Can you imagine that? That it was just the name of a mall?″


EDITORS NOTE: Donations for the Francis Scott Key Museum can be sent to: Key Centennial Association, P.O. Box 565, Frederick, Md. 21705.

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