"I didn't know all the details about the verses or all of the beautiful words," he said. "But, it's a very special song, and I'm amazed at the passion [the Esmonds] have for it."
The couple has also installed a diorama in a 30-foot-wide storefront window at The Gallery Mall in the Inner Harbor. In it, they have displayed a 30- by 42-foot, 15-star American flag that once flew over Fort McHenry, a replica War of 1812 British Congreve rocket launcher, historical portraits, and photocopies of "The Star-Spangled Banner" manuscript.
Judging by the handprints he regularly cleans from the display's glass windows, the diorama has been especially popular with children, he said.
Esmond said he not only thinks of 9/11 when he hears the anthem, but of his father-in-law's service during the battle of Iwo Jima and added that his wife says she thinks about her nephew who served in Iraq.
"I don't determine what the anthem means to anybody, you determine that for yourself," he said. "And the next time, you'll sing it with a different appreciation and hear it with a different ear.
"It's one thing we can agree on and that unites us as we sing it," he said. "And we need that unity more than ever."