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Ready to declare war on Canada?

Tom Jackson • Jun 12, 2012 at 4:23 PM

The War of 1812 is sometimes known as America’s forgotten war, but local officials will do their best Monday to help everyone remember.

Monday is the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812 (1812-1815), which pitted the United States against Great Britain (including Canada) and put northern Ohio on the front lines.

The Perry Victory Memorial at Put-in-Bay is planning three days of events from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday to kick off the bicentennial celebration.

On Saturday and Sunday, actors portraying Chief Tecumseh and Dolley Madison will speak to visitors  and muskets and cannons will be fired.

Monday’s activities will include an 11 a.m. mock declaration of war on a sister park in Canada, Signal Hill National Historic Site in Canada.

Ohio’s War of 1812 Commission has supplied vintage War of 1812 flags with 15 stars and 15 stripes to every county in Ohio. County commissioners in every county have been asked to raise the flag Monday.

Ottawa County — mindful that the crucial Battle of Lake Erie took place a short distance away from Put-in-Bay — will hold a ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Monday at the courthouse, said Ottawa County commissioner Jim Sass.

American Legion Post 113 will supply an honor guard, Sass will offer a few remarks, and the current flag at the courthouse will be lowered and replaced with a “Star Spangled Banner,” Sass said.

Ohio, still a young state in 1812, feared an invasion of British soldiers. But if Ottawa County is invaded by history  buffs for about the next three years, Sass will welcome them.

“Ottawa County played a fairly huge role,” Sass said. “People are going to be coming here to see the location where Oliver Hazard Perry’s battle was.”

The War of 1812 flag is often referred to as the “Star Spangled Banner,” because it is the flag that inspired our national anthem, explained Carrie Sowden, archaeological director for the Great Lakes Historical Society in Vermilion and a member of the Ohio War of 1812 Commission.

Francis Scott Key, who wrote the words for the national anthem, was inspired to write his poem after seeing the 15-star, 15-stripe flag still waving over Fort McHenry, which defended Baltimore’s harbor from the British fleet, after a rocket attack by the British navy. The flags that will fly across Ohio Monday are identical in appearance to the one Key saw, Sowden said.

Erie County will fly its vintage flag at noon Monday, and churches in downtown Sandusky have agreed to ring bells to mark the occasion, said Carolyn Hauenstein, the clerk for the commissioners.

Huron County’s flag arrived Friday, and it will raise the flag on Monday, too, said Cheryl Nolan, the clerk for the commissioners.

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