Video courtesy Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
Magician David Copperfield presented one of his patented illusions in Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The museum was the setting for a naturalization ceremony on Flag Day, Friday, June 14, as 14 people from 14 different countries (including an active member of the U.S. Air Force), took the Oath of Allegiance for citizenship.
The Star-Spangled Banner, the iconic flag that flew over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry and inspired the famous poem by Francis Scott Key, is incomplete. Ownership of the flag was first claimed by Major George Armistead, the commander of Fort McHenry during the British assault on Baltimore Harbor on Sept. 13 and 14, 1814. It was officially given to the Smithsonian by Armistead’s decendants in 1912, but not before significant chunks, including one of the stars, had been cut away by souvernier hunters. The edge of the flag is now eight feet shorter than when first produced by flag maker Mary Pickersgill for $405.90 at her home on Baltimore’s Pratt Street. While some of the “snippings” have since been recovered, the missing star has vanished from history.
Copperfield’s goal on this Flag Day was to find and restore the missing 15th star.
David Copperfield has been described as the most commercially successful magician in history. He has been named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Before a packed auditorium at the museum, Copperfield worked his magic, levitating and spinning an empty cardboard box, out of which popped a courier from the past carrying a satchel bearing the “missing 15th star.”
The replica star created for the performance will join about 13 real fragments that have been rediscovered over the years and added to the Smithsonian collection.
Copperfield reminded the audience that he is “the proud son of immigrants.” Perhaps his most famous illusion was making the Statue of Liberty seemingly disappear in front of a live audience in 1983. Copperfield would explain that he wanted the statue’s disappearance to remind us all “how precious liberty is and how easily it can be lost. I can show with magic how we take our freedom for granted.” With the illusion of replacing the missing star, Copperfield has seemingly done the opposite, bringing back a lost symbol of national unity and reminding us that “we are a diverse people that have done amazing things because of our differences — because of our backgrounds, our artistic skills, our languages, our cultures.”
The program inside the museum’s Warner Bros. Theater also included a performance by the student choir from Baltimore’s Cardinal Shehan School, singing the inspiring “Rise Up” and “Stand Up for Something.”
This ceremony marked the final public function of Smithsonian Secretary David J. Skorton, The new secretary, Lonnie Bunch III, would assume duties just two days hence.
View Jeff Malet’s photos from the naturalization ceremony at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History by clicking on the photo icons below.