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War of 1812 recalled

June 19, 2012

First Class Petty Officer and Sonar Technician, Matthew McDermitt, of the U.S. Navy, at left, and Auglaize County Administrator Michael Hensley, at right, prepare to raise the flag during the War of 1812 Bicentennial Ceremony on Monday in Wapakoneta.

With Monday marking the anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812, locals gathered for a special ceremony to commemorate the event.

On June 18, 1812, President James Madison signed a declaration of war against Britain. Now, 200 years later, the day was remembered, and the Auglaize County county administrator, representatives from the Historical Society and local reverends gathered outside of the Auglaize County Administration Building to raise a flag to remember day.

The commissioners had been invited to participate in the special ceremony by the Ohio War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.

Allison Brady, of the Heritage Trails Park District, welcomed the crowd of approximately 15-20 people on Monday as she served as moderator for the event.

The presentation of colors was done by Alvin W. Metzger, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 8445, of Wapakoneta. Auglaize County Administrator Michael Hensley lead the group in the Pledge of Allegiance, and then Rachel Barber, of the Auglaize County Historical Society, sang the National Anthem.

An invocation and historical background of the war was then presented.

“June 18, 2012 commemorates an important milestone in the history of Ohio and the nation,” Melissa Luthman, of the Ohio Historical Society said. “Two-hundred years ago today the United States of American declared war on Great Britain in an attempt to end violations of its sovereignty and to preserve the national honor.”

The war, which lasted for more than two-and-a-half-years, was engaged throughout the United States and Canada, with significant military activity occurring in Ohio.

“The War of 1812 was the United States’ first major war as a nation,” Luthman said during the ceremony. “It asserted our right to defend ourselves against illegal acts by other countries. By declaring war against Great Britain, our country demonstrated to the world that the United States of America was to be reckoned with internationally. Moreover, the fighting in Ohio solidified American control of our state and ended an almost 60-year struggle for the Great Lakes region.”

Luthman said the war to Ohio citizens was personal.

“Ohio was the front line during the early years of the war and the scene of major battles, including engagements at Fort Meigs, Fort Stephenson and the Battle of Lake Erie.

“Numerous skirmishes were also fought throughout the state, as opposing sides tried to gauge the enemy’s strength and gain the upper hand,” Luthman said.

The impact of the war was felt across the state.

“Many of our counties in Ohio boast sites directly related to the War of 1812,” Luthman said. “Fort Barbee and Fort Amanda were located in what would become Auglaize County.”

The forts and blockhouses that were built throughout the state protected a supply chain that provided essential supplies that were needed by the army.

“The war had a lasting impact on Ohio, causing new towns to be established, spurring settlement and confirming the cultural and geographic boundaries of the Great Lakes that exist to the present,” Luthman said. “The 15-star flag that we will raise today, identical to the one flown in 1812, represents the Ohio story and the American story of the War of 1812.”    

Brady then noted that on June 1, 1812, President Madison sent a “war message” to Congress.

“The document cited numerous American grievances against Great Britain including forcing (kidnapping) U.S. sailors in to the British Royal Navy, searching American vessels in American waters, implementing trade embargoes detrimental to the American economy, and, finally, the British Army’s alleged incitement of the American Indians’ First Nations to violence,” Brady said. “Although Madison’s message did not overly call for war, its implication was obvious.”

A few days later, the House of Representatives voted 79-to-49 in favor of war. This was followed by a 19-to-13 vote in the Senate on June 17.

When Madison signed the Declaration of War on June 18, 1812, express riders set off immediately to deliver the news.

Barber read the declaration, and then introduced 1st Class Petty Officer and Sonar Technician Matthew McDermitt, of the U.S. Navy.

McDermitt was honored to represent the Navy and reflected on some of the important battles — of which many were naval battles.

Brady then announced the raising of the flag.

“And now we pause to remember all who have answered the call in defense of our union for more than two centuries,” Brady said, “especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

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