United States Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, recently launched the Navy’s commemoration honoring the bicentennial of the War of 1812 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. A regional team from the volunteer, nonprofit Perry Group presented the Secretary with a “Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial Celebration” commemorative flag stitched with five indelible words: “Don’t give up the ship.”
“The flag draped over the shoulder of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry — as pictured in the Halls of Congress, U.S. Naval Academy Museum and Ohio State House — include these instructional yet inspirational words that helped chart the course of victory for America against the British in the War of 1812,” says David Zavagno, chairman of The Perry Group’s Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial Committee, which has been planning its tribute for more than three years.
Zavagno, along with Blanca Stransky, superintendent of the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, which oversees the Perry Memorial and surrounding grounds at Put-in-Bay, presented the navy blue flag to Mabus.
The turning point in the War of 1812 was the Battle of Lake Erie, when Oliver Hazard Perry — sailing under a "Don't Give Up the Ship" battle flag — led the U.S. Navy over the British Navy in a historic battle near Put-in-Bay. “Don't give up the ship” was the dying command of James Lawrence in 1813 aboard the USS Chesapeake. The War of 1812, also remembered for Francis Scott Key’s authoring of the Star Spangled Banner and the burning of the White House by the British army, was America's first great Naval war. The Battle of Lake Erie was the first-ever U.S. Naval fleet victory over the British navy.
The Navy, as part of its 15-city tour to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812, will visit Cleveland Aug. 27-Sept. 4, featuring Navy ships and special events. A video about the Navy’s commemoration, including depictions of the pivotal Battle of Lake Erie, is available on YouTube: http://youtu.be/VD75BAzjqek.
Tall ships representing the U.S. and Great Britain will gather in the Put-in-Bay area, and there also will be a re-enactment of the Battle of Lake Erie to commemorate the occasion, something Zavagno says is designed to really bring home what “this pivotal conflict” represents to all Americans.
Along with the massive reenactment, Zavagno said The Perry Group works tirelessly on these proposed upcoming events:
• June 18 — Declaration of War followed by tolling bells and the raising of 15-star flags.
• Aug. 27-Sept, 4 — Navy War of 1812 week in Cleveland, VIP On Board arrival
• Aug. 30 — The Perry Group-sponsored “Bicentennial Welcome Ceremony” on board the USS De Wert.
• Sept. 8 — The 199th Anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie celebrated in conjunction with the Coast Guard and Navy.
• Aug. 29–30 — “Parade of Sail” around the Western Basin with 15 to 18 Tall Ships; the Tall Ships will then be located in the proposed following ports for the Bicentennial Celebration: Amherstburg, Kingsville, Leamington, Monroe, Toledo, Port Clinton, Catawba Island Club, Pelee Island, Put-in-Bay, Kelleys Island, Huron/Sandusky.
• Aug. 31 — Musical concert(s).
• Sept. 1 — Parade of boaters in conjunction with the Navy and Coast Guard around Put-in-Bay; The Ohio State Marching Band.
• Sept. 2 — Battle of Lake Erie re-enactment.
• Sept. 7-10 — U.S. Navy returns to the Great Lakes and Put-in-Bay (Proposed).
• Sept. 10 — USS Niagara returns; bicentennial ceremonies including statewide bell ringing, sunset salute and wreath laying.
Official invitees will include representatives from the U.S., British and Canadian governments, and Native American Indian groups. Local, regional and state officials will be part of these ceremonies, as will dignitaries from business, colleges, schools, historical organizations, and much will also be open to the general public.