Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin was in town yesterday as a part of her "One Nation" bus tour across the country. She and her family visited Fort McHenry and were guided by Ranger Jim Bailey, pictured with Palin, who was dressed (and probably sweating to death) as an 1814 Army artilery officer.
Bailey gave them a tour of the battlefield and even let Palin pick up a 36-pound cannonball. Palin and her husband, Todd, also peeked in closely to the glass case housing the original copy of Francis Scott Key's "Star-Spangled Banner."
We spoke to Bailey earlier today and asked what it was like to meet and hang out with Palin, who has still not yet confirmed whether she is running for president in 2012. Bailey said that he gave the tour to Palin and her family (including daughter Piper, husband Todd, and Palin's father) while the fort was open to the public and the press.
"She was really good about engaging with the public, signing autographs and things, while also paying attention to the tour and her family," Bailey says. "Since it was Memorial Day, I talked a lot about the casualties during the battle. I told her that there was an unidentified woman who was killed by one of the British bombs at the fort. She seemed genuinely surprised by that."
Bailey also explains that Palin was extremely interested in Key's words in the anthem, something she touched on in her blog. Another thing she couldn't ignore was the sweltering temperature yesterday.
"Piper had a lemon ice and I pointed to it and said, 'The soldiers would have loved to have those back then,'" Bailey says. "Then Sarah said, 'Yeah, you look hot. Is that wool?' and felt my wool uniform. She was like any visitor—stunned that I was in such warm clothing on such a hot day."
[Image: courtesy of sarahpac.com]