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2015 End of the BOLE Celebration

Happy New Year, may the next 43 years until the 250th BOLE anniversary begins be prosperous and meaningful for you and your family. I wanted to thank everyone that supported the broad and noble effort to observe the bicentennial of The Battle of Lake Erie. I enjoyed writing stories that celebrated so many of the people, places and organizations that made this three year observance so successful. The next 43 years should lead us to an even bigger celebration in 2063. I plan to be there, at least in spirit. Thank you.

Dont Give Up the Ship

Peter Huston

(check out my new column PIBIO at )


Historic Weekend Wreath Laying Ceremony

Historic Weekend Wreath Laying Ceremony & Reception

Join us for the Final Events in the three-year observance of the War of 1812 and the Battle of Lake Erie.

Saturday, September 12*

Join us for a day to remember. Tickets for the day are a donation to the Perry Group and include passage aboard the Miller Ferry to the battle site, coffee and light breakfast and the reception at the Keys with hors d’oeuvres and a drink. $35 per person, $25 for Perry Group Members.

8 a.m. Check-in for Wreath Laying Begins at Perry’s Victory Visitor Center

Programming will be provided National Park Service Rangers Bill Krejci and Kathie Holbrook of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial and historic military interpreters from For King and Empire of St. Johns Newfoundland and the Halifax Citadel Regimental Association of Halifax, Nova Scotia and Chaplain Mother Mary Staley of St. Paul’s Church. Musical performances provided by the Black Swamp Inter-Tribal Foundation, historical re-enactor Bob Ford, and Border Patrol Agent Tim Nickell and Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Allen Terry of the United States Border Patrol Pipes & Drums

8:45 a.m. * Miller Ferry Departs for Wreath Laying at Battle Site (departure dock TBD)

11:30 a.m. Ferry Returns

12:00 p.m * Reception at The Keys

2:15 p.m. Historic Weekend Parade—Downtown Put-in-Bay, Ohio (Community parade with high school bands, antique cars, re-enactors, US Navy, US Park Service, US Navy Sea Cadet Corps, Boy Scouts of America, and more)

3 p.m. Military Tattoo (Artillery and special maneuvers of ground forces from War of 1812, combined with musical performances, and remarks from special guests.)

5 p.m. Battle of Lake Eric Lecture presented by Gerry Altoff in the Visitor Center

6 p.m. Sounds of Sousa Concert sponsored by the Perry Group on the lower plaza (In case of rain this concert will be held inside at the Niagara Event Center)

At Dusk (9ish) *Lights of Peace—Harbor Illumination sponsored by the Perry Group. Flares will be lit around South Bass Island in memory of friends & loved ones.

Sunday, September 13

10 a.m. Procession: In Remembrance of the Fallen (20 minute ceremony) Participants need to arrive NLT 9:45 a.m. to line up.

Reserve and buy tickets by phone 419-285-2491, or email purchase online at

*There are no rain dates for these events

DGUTS and the story of Captain James Lawrence

I was recently sent an article by Boston Globe Writer Tom Halsted entitled “The real shameful story behind ‘Dont give up the ship’!”, about the iconic American slogan that is attributed to Captain James Lawrence. His recounting of that fateful June 1st day casts an ugly shadow on Lawrence, Perry’s hero, albeit not the resulting slogan that emerged. While it was a terrible Naval/military loss—Halsted’s article puts forward the idea that is was a PR win for the US. I might add that from that perspective is was perhaps the most important propaganda message to emerge from the early part of the War of 1812.

searchYou can read his Boston Globe article online:

Mr. Halsted offers up an “official” recounting of the day: “200 YEARS AGO, on June 1, 1813, in the midst of a bloody sea battle between an American and a British frigate a few miles north of Boston, one of America’s most memorable wartime slogans was born. As the mortally wounded Captain James Lawrence of the US frigate Chesapeake lay dying in his cabin, his crew locked in hand-to-­hand combat on the quarterdeck above, he is alleged to have uttered the memorable words: “Don’t give up the ship!” His rallying cry, published a few weeks later in a Baltimore newspaper, became the unofficial motto of the US Navy.

But he quickly goes on to paint a much bleaker picture. The events that day, according to Mr. Halsted were a combination of James Lawrence not following orders, bad decision making, poor strategy and a lack of crew training. Some say that Captain Lawrence was goaded into battle by bold editorials whipping up local fervor in local newspapers, patriotic crowds standing watch and an early over confidence among American leaders and the military.

It was just a year into the war and the British were still pretty preoccupied with Napoleon and the French. American privateers, and the USS Constitution had all been quite able to defeat and or outwit many of the British ships. So why not think Captain Lawrence could defeat the British. He had been a stand out leader and had led his past commands with valor and success. A young OH Perry had been aboard with Lawrence and valued his expertise and good judgment. There was no reason to think that this would be a devastating loss.

What Mr. Halsted brushed over is that Lawrence had just taken over command of the Chesapeake. He had a green, untested, untrained crew and officers with little actual battle experience. He had expressed his concern to his superiors that his ship was not ready to engage in battle and he was the only ship in Boston Harbor at the time. It would be easier to try a avoid conflict. But the British blockade, commanded by the very experienced Captain Block and the HMS Shannon was an opponent to be very wary of. But we also know that public opinion, hype and bravado sometimes cause us to make ill-fated decisions. And so it was for Captain Lawrence that day

According to Mr. Halsted, in late May 1813, Captain Philip Broke sailed the HMS Shannon, flagship of the blockading British squadron, into Massachusetts Bay alone, knowing the Americans had only one frigate ready for sea in Boston. On June 1, the Chesapeake rose to the challenge. Unlike most sea battles, which take place far from land, the whole encounter was staged for public viewing. “Spectators lined the rooftops in Boston and along the North Shore, and commanders of both ships repeatedly had to warn a boisterous spectator fleet of yachts and small boats to stay clear,” wrote Halsted.

The battle commenced, Lawrence not only put his ship in harms way, pulling aside HMS Shannon but he loses the battle in a record 11 minutes. There was tremendous carnage and casualties on both sides with nearly 40 dead on the USS Chesapeake and 34 on the British ship HMS Shannon. The worst of it was that according to Mr. Halstead’s account Captain Lawrence was mortally wounded and taken below to be attended to by the ships surgeon. From there he was unable to command his ship allowing the British to board and seize control. A total disaster at sea with an audience!

As Napoleon is credited with saying “What is history but a fable agreed upon?” There is no question that on that day the engagement between the Chesapeake and the Shannon should never have taken place. Halsted observed that not only did Lawrence’s surviving crew give up the ship almost immediately, but some historians believe that Lawrence had disobeyed orders to avoid combat in the first place, then committed a series of tactical blunders that all but guaranteed he and his ship would lose. So what was won that day?

Mr. Halsted concludes that “Rather than a heroic stand, what took place that day and after was one of the most spectacular—public relations coups in American military history. It was carried out with the full support of the public. And to look back on what really happened, as it has been pieced together by historians since, is to appreciate how little has changed about one aspect of war: our need to transform even the most pointless losses into a noble, defiant message.”

We do know that a few months after the battle, a dark blue almost black banner, was commissioned by OH Perry with Lawrence’s words sewn on. It was hoisted to the masthead of his namesake vessel, the Brig USS Lawrence. Its captain, Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry, then won the most decisive victory in the War of 1812 on Sept. 10 over British naval forces in the Battle of Lake Erie. That original “Dont give up the ship” banner now graces the US Naval Academy main hall. So as Winston Churchill once may have said “History is written by the victors”.

Note: Tom Halsted is a Gloucester Massachusetts writer and sailor and the great great grandson of James Curtis, a midshipman who, as a 15 ­year ­old, was Lawrence’s aide ­de ­camp on the Chesapeake.

The Niagara Returns!


Set your clocks, mark your calendars, program your smart phone and get ready to experience the Brig Niagara again. Our friends from Erie, The Brig Niagara and the Flagship Niagara League are setting sail, returning to Put-in-Bay Ohio June 18-22 for the Put-in-Bay Maritime Celebration and Pyrate Fest. This is an epic event hosted by the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce.

What began as a pipe dream last winter is now a five-day event, one that we envision growing and blossoming into a broadly attended festival that will continue to celebrate Put-in-Bay’s 200+ year maritime heritage. The Perry Group is proud to be a partner in this new adventure.

This year we are looking forward to seeing many of our old friends, visitors and neighbors back to relive some of the excitement of the 2013 Bicentennial. We also want to extend a warm welcome to the new friends we will make coming to the island for the first time, including the new superintendent and staff joining us from Perry’s Victory.

There is no question that our deeply rooted maritime heritage here in the Bass Islands was built upon the square riggers, schooners, steamers and later affordable pleasure craft built and enjoyed here on the great lakes.

Ever since the first indigenous natives started visiting the islands they knew as “Split Winds”, people have wanted to visit Put-in-Bay. Our regions’ collective conscious is all about the water and the backbone of our island’s destination heritage.

You can imagine that it did not take very long after Oliver Hazard Perry visited the island in 1813 before Put-in-Bay became a regular stop for merchant vessels looking for safe harbor. And by the late 1850’s Jose De Rivera’s dream for establishing a “new start” farming opportunity here had bloomed with vineyards and fruit orchards attracting summer visitors from “far away” places like Buffalo, Detroit and Cleveland.

The residents of Put-in-Bay’s love for the water was infectious and groups like the ILYA (Inter-Lake Yachting Association) began hosting its now world famous sail and powerboat regatta here in 1890’s. It annually draws hundreds contestants, along with thousands of spectators and boating enthusiasts. People from all ends of the Great Lakes return again and again, attracted to our warm and gracious host port island.

This year’s “Return of the Niagara” also marks the beginning of a new era in our celebration of peace with Canada and Great Britain. Once the treaty of Ghent was signed back in 1815 the clock started ticking. The next 200 years starts now with events like our Put-in-Bay Maritime Festival.

From rowing boats to Tallships, the Brig Niagara presence over the next several years provides the public with a direct connection to that important history. And with Pyrate Fest sharing the weekend comes our fantastical connection to the good and the bad of sailors, pirates and privateers.

On May 1 the public will be able to access the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce ( website for advance tickets to June’s events. I recommend being early in line. Tickets for tours, the catered reception, and 5 hour sail will be available in limited quantities and for 10 lucky folks there will be a VIP pass for sale that covers the tour, reception and the sail for two plus dinner with wine at the Crews Nest. All of the details can be found on the chambers website.

Please help us to make the 2015 Put-in-Bay Maritime Celebration a success. Find us on Facebook, twitter, instagram and share the news. Your social media tool kit starts with our hash tags for this year’s events #pibmaritimecelebration, #pyratefest and #returnoftheniagara. Spread the word, share the hash tags!

Mt. Moriah’s Treasure

On a bitter cold day this past February during a trip to Philadelphia for the Tallships America conference Marc Burr and I drove to the far side of Old Philadelphia to the once famous Mt. Moriah Cemetery. We were looking for the final resting spot of Commodore Jessie Duncan Elliott. Elliott, as you know, was the Commandant of the Brig Niagara until Oliver Hazard Perry rowed from the Lawrence and took command from him changing the outcome of the Battle of Lake Erie and America’s future. Elliott would forever spend the rest of his career with the shadow of that day looming over him. For most of us Perry stands tall as an American hero but Elliott has faded into obscurity.


We were fortunate to be able to meet with Samuel Ricks from “Friends of Mt Moriah” at the eastern gate of Mt Moriah Cemetery. He led us up a hill on a broken down pathway through thick overgrowth of a once grand parkway to the far corner of this 350 plus acre site. Over 80,00 people, including Betsy Ross, were buried here starting around 1855. Many of Philadelphia’s older churches moved their ancient burial grounds here too. In 2004 the last living commissioner of Mt. Moriah Cemetery Association, Horatio Jones, passed away. A “perpetual care” fund set up in the 1950’s was soon depleted and Mt Moriah went out of business and was abandoned.

Today it looks like a gothic nightmare with once imposing mausoleums, elaborate family plots and giant statuary toppled by time, brambles, vandals and trees. Thanks to the Mt. Moriah friends group and a contingent of college students about 35% of the cemetery has been cleared of weeds, bramble and trees. In the back potion of this amazing place Sam Ricks showed us the Navy Asylum cemetery. In the 1800’s Naval Asylums were a mixture of hospital and nursing home and often the place of last refuge for dying sailors.

This Naval portion of Mt. Morriah is actually a cemetery within a cemetery where those who died at the Philadelphia Asylum were buried and is “owned” by the US Government. Within the Naval cemetery is small section of War of 1812 Veterans, which is where we found the final resting spot of Jessie Duncan Elliott. DSCN0158_01

Thanks to Mr. Ricks and his friends, this sacred Naval burial ground was pulled back from the brink of complete obscuration. The cemetery now finally has the US Government’s attention. Sadly, Elliott’s grave marker says “unknown” today because the Veteran’s Administration, tasked with oversight of the Navy plot, has been slow to verify those buried there and replace the decaying grave markers. But Sam Ricks and the board of “Friends of Mt Moriah” have continued the research to verify the men buried in this historic plot.

Many of the headstones have become hard to read, but with special techniques, effective research and a little sleuthing, the Friends of Mt Moriah have verified the final resting spots for several sailors aboard War of 1812 vessels including the Niagara, Lawrence, Constellation and Constitution. In fact Seaman Thomas Johnson, last survivor of the BonHomme Richard captained by John Paul Jones during the American Revolution, is buried here as well.

Mr. Rick’s stated to us “Our first priority on this project is to identify the sailor and marine graves, then go back and research their histories at a later date.” Two stories that he is working on are based on an 1893 Philadelphia Enquirer article about the Asylum. It mentions George Adams and John “Jack” Smith as the two sailors who rowed Perry from the Lawrence to the Niagara during the Battle of Lake Erie.

Sam has a copy of the pension papers of George Adams that shows that OH Perry personally vouched for Adams being wounded while rowing him from the Lawrence to the Niagara! There was also a Boatswain’s Mate from the Niagara, Edward Coffee who is buried nearby in the Naval Plot.  The Friends group has a page from his pension file that mentions his service during the Battle of Lake Erie, “Perry’s Victory”

As you can imagine, we couldn’t help but be drawn in by the facts and stories Sam Ricks shared with us. There is much more research to be done on the sailors buried here to find out which others may have served during the Battle of Lake Erie. The pension records for many who served on the Lakes during the War of 1812 are becoming more readily available on the internet, but most still require going to the federal archives for verification.

If you’re interested in being involved in this important project and insuring that Elliott and all the 1812 Navy veterans get the attention they deserve I urge you to write to the VA area director (for Washington’s Crossing that services the Naval Plot) Gregory Whitney (  The Perry Group continues to work on sighting a permanent marker to properly commemorate Commodore Jessie Duncan Elliott as well as the Niagara and Lawrence sailors buried at the Mt. Moriah Naval Plot. For more information about Mt. Moriah go to

War is Over-Congress Ratifies the Treaty Of Ghent

I wanted to share this press release that came in last week from Dave Zavagno. After nearly three years of war, word comes from Europe at the end of December 1814 that a treaty to end the war has been signed, but needs to be ratified. American’s rejoice in the north but the word does not come fast enough to stop the final battle to in New Orleans from playing out, with Andrew Jackson emerging as the only American leader to have fought in the Revolution and the war of 1812. On February 16th, 1815 Congress Ratifies Treaty of Ghent

Today is the 200-Year Anniversary

Put-in-Bay Township, OH—February 16, 2015— The Perry Group, a volunteer, nonprofit organization will be celebrating with representatives from Ohio, Indiana and Michigan the historic date of February 16, 1815, when Congress ratified the Treaty of Ghent ending the War of 1812. A dedication ceremony will take place on Memorial Day at Put-in-Bay, Ohio, honoring the 557 sailors who served during the Battle of Lake Erie, a turning point during the war.

The Treaty of Ghent ended hostilities between Great Britain and the United States and restored boundaries to what they were before the outbreak of war. Territory, now compromising three states was carved out by the British as “Indian States.” Indian tribes fought on the side of the British during the war of 1812. Indiana and Michigan may never have become states, and the continued westward expansion of America would have been seriously jeopardized without the ratification of the Treaty.

Donald R. Hickey, professor of history at Wayne State College in Nebraska and author of The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict states: “If the American Revolution established the nation, the War of 1812 confirmed the nationhood. Convinced that they had won the war, the American people emerged from the contest with a buoyant self-confidence, with a clear idea of their identity and a newfound sense of propose.”

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio was built to recognize the decisive victory of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry over the powerful British Navy during the Battle of Lake Erie. According to Mr. Hickey: “…not only did it secure naval superiority in Lake Erie, but it also paved the way for the American victory on land.”

Perry’s battle flag with the iconic words “Don’t Give Up the Ship” is now on display at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. “DGUTHS” is known throughout the U.S. Navy and is a central command for all midshipmen.
Memorial Day ceremonies honoring the 557 Navy sailors who served during the Battle of Lake Erie and a celebration of the end of the War of 1812 will take place at Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

According to David Zavango, chairman of the Perry Group’s Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial celebration, “February 16 is one of the most important days in Ohio’s long and storied history. Memorial Day will bring together thousands to honor those who served gallantly in the Battle of Lake Erie.

“At the conclusion of the ceremonies, a permanent plaque will be unveiled to honor those who served and the 557 modern-day sailors, who stand in their place today honoring their memories.”
About the Treaty of Ghent.

The initial terms of the treaty were written in 10 days, but it wasn’t until December 24, 1814 that both sides agreed to the terms and even longer, due to poor telecommunications, to officially announce to all parties involved that the war was over. The war of 1812 officially ended on February 16, 1815, after nearly six months of peace negotiations in the city of Ghent, which is now Belgium.

About Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial (IPM) is located within the Village of Put-in-Bay, OH. Put-in-Bay is on South Bass Island. IPM was established to honor those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie, during the War of 1812, and to celebrate the long-lasting peace between Britain, Canada and the U.S. The Memorial, a Doric column, rising 352 feet over Lake Erie is situated 5 miles from the longest undefended border in the world.

About The Perry Group

The Friends of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, also known as The Perry Group, is a volunteer, nonprofit organization working with the National Park Service and the local, national, and international community to commemorate the Battle of Lake Erie and celebrate the long-lasting peace between Britain, Canada and the United States.

Since 1989, The Perry Group has supported Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in its educational, historic and peacekeeping goals through the promotion and sponsorship of the Memorial’s programs and special events.

Time Capsule Mystery Revisited

Centennial postcard005

Recently I got a letter from Nell Fike whose great Aunt was a “winner” in the 1912 Battle of Lake Erie Centennial Committee’s essay contest “Commodore Perry, the man and the Commander”. I had done some research into this story two years ago when I wrote about “Jane’s Missing Essay”
( and this story only gets more unfortunate as I learn more about the essay contest.

This was a well-publicized contest that was competed at both county and statewide levels. There is some evidence that perhaps some form of this essay contest was even done in all the 14 states that were part of the Perry’s Monument Commission. As I investigated further it seems that there probably were winners in every county. And then to make matters worse, there were two submission categories, high school and college! In Ohio alone there are 88 counties, which means there would have been 172 winners and a like number of runners up.

The county winners were then submitted to the state for “final” judging. There was conflicting information that said that these winning essay(s) would be placed “in” the Monument, though not necessarily in the time capsule placed in the column wall.

The complicating factor was that when the monument was originally designed and built there was supposed to be a museum built where these essays and many other artifacts would have been housed. That museum was never built (see picture). What happened over the next 100 years under the monument plaza were poorly controlled conditions in the chambers where items were stored. Water, humidity and poor storage conditions damaged much of the contents. Sometime in the 80’s prior and during the Monuments major repair for water damage, former NPS employees recall boxes and boxes of ruined “stuff” were hauled away.

When that same renovation was being done, the construction workers discovered the time capsule. They removed it the National Park Service logged its contents and placed it back in the wall. No essays were in that time capsule content list unfortunately. When we had the Mason’s here to do the cornerstone ceremony I inquired with them on this story and the contents as well. They had been in charge of the capsule and contents and they had no information on the essay contest winners being included in this box either.

After the renovation construction was completed the time capsule was put back in a wall and the capsule’s exact location was not noted. There were no organized efforts to locate it during the bicentennial year again since it had already been opened previously.

So sorry to say we did not pursue this missing essay project any further. The hundred or more essay(s) could have been in the boxes of “stuff” removed, or perhaps they could be in some never inventoried box at the Columbus Statehouse Archives or some other county historical society storage facility.

I am sorry there is no happy ending to yet for this story. But who knows, maybe the essays will turn up in some archive or family barn. I would hate to think they all rotted away in the storage areas under the plaza of the Monument.

I am hopeful that somewhere there is a person who may know of the where about’s of these essays. Nell was able to find a few in the Western Reserve Historical Society. If you have an idea on where we might look, email us at the so we can put this mystery to rest!

The Toledo Symphony Returns

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 2.48.59 PM“Friends of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial”, better known as the “Perry Group” is the official National Park Service registered support group for our monument and it’s mission here in Put-in-Bay.

Many years ago we were one of the first non-profit groups in Ohio to get a special license plate designed and issued by the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles. Every time you see a car with the Monument on the plate that person is helping us to provide support to our NPS site here in Put-in-Bay.

Over the past 25+ years the Perry Group helped raise funds to build the visitor center, underwrite the Dean Mosher paintings hanging there, secure artifacts, publish Gerard Altoff’s books, and even build “Perry’s Longboat” all with your help. Annually we are often asked to provide support for events, re-enactors, rentals, and music.

One of the most delightful parts of our summer is bringing the renowned Toledo Symphony to the island. The Toledo Symphony has recorded and performed with great musicians like Vladimir Ashkenazy, Isaac Stern, Aaron Copland, and Itzhak Perlman, and has even performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Last year during our Bicentennial Celebration scheduling precluded us from inviting the full symphony to perform so that the time and attention of historic Saturday’s events could be focused on Park Canada’s amazing “Tattoo” performance.

We engaged a small Toledo Symphony ensemble to play after the Tattoo as our Harbor Illumination was being set up. They delivered a beautiful performance. Our regular contact at the Toledo Symphony over the years has been Sandra Clark. Sandra had always made sure that we had the best event possible with top musicians and a great conductor making the journey to the island to play.

She asked that when we brought the Symphony back in 2014 that they be able to play once again on the plaza at the monument. This is a wonderful tradition that dates back well over a decade here on Historic Weekend. We have requested this for 2014. Sadly Sandra unexpectedly passed away two weeks ago without being able to return with the Symphony.So that makes this quite a special year for us at the Perry Group as we remember our friend Sandra while presenting the Toledo Symphony once again here at Perry’s Victory.

So come help us continue to commemorate the War of 1812. This 200th anniversary year (1814) will be remembered for the noted famous poem “The Defense of Fort McHenry” written by Francis Scott Key. Of course we now know it as “The Star Spangled Banner”.This year the symphony will perform a special concert dedicated to the writing of the poem and celebrating the remembrance of the battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore that gave us the lyrics to our most cherished anthem.

Join us Saturday September 6th at 6pm for the triumphant return of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and their special tribute to Francis Scott Key and the music that America loves to hear at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial (or at the Niagara Center if it rains).
Get involved, you can be join the Perry Group for as little as $20 at

What a year!

Thank you everyone for helping to make this past year memorable. We had great weather, good fortune, amazing volunteers! People came from all corners of the world to be a part of this event. We took notes on things we can learn from and will be ready for the 250th in 2063! See you then! You can savor the memories with our book “Remembering Forward” The Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial at

John E. Rees First Runner Up in the Perry Group Photo Contest

John E. Rees First Runner Up in the Perry Group Photo Contest

Remembering Forward

It is hard to believe that the bicentennial has finally arrived. Two hundred years of memories built upon memories of that important day back in 1813. History has guided us to this wonderful moment in time. The 200th Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial will be filled with vivid new images that will be seen, shared and enjoyed for years to come.

Many of the past images we have in our collective conscience are of war ships and battle diagrams, slogans like “Dont give up the ship” but the memories we want to share and promote from here forward are also about the peace we continue to enjoy with Canada and Great Britain. In fact that friendship is the greatest gift we pass on to the next generation from this bloody battle and costly war won by our brave sailors and militia.

Over the next two weeks and perhaps for the next few years, we can expect many families and children will come to our island to see where this all took place. If we do our jobs as guides and storytellers well, visitors and parents will pass on this important legacy of peace. Our children will see the Battle of Lake Erie in a positive light, a bicentennial story, without lingering on the bloodshed and horrors of war. Instead lets explain how honor, duty and patriotism made way for a new beginning with our neighbors.
50 years ago our little community of Put-in Bay proudly hosted the Sesquicentennial for the Battle of Lake Erie. I had not really given it much thought, not living here then, but one afternoon I was at a community gathering when Mark Wilhelm, our past Fire Chief, explained to me his recollections of this 150th Sesquicentennial event.
He remembered fondly being picked by his teacher to be Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. He wasn’t sure why he was picked but he still remembers riding on the “Dont give up the ship” float and then getting to do it all over again in Port Clinton a week later. What a thrill that day was. Luckily, his mom had saved some pictures of that event that he shared with me. He certainly looked sharp in his uniform as Commodore Perry aboard the long boat. Miller Boat Line’s Julene Market also remembers this day vividly. If you look closely I think she is in the picture on the float dressed up as a sailor.
No doubt this was an important moment in the lives of these island children. The elementary teachers at Put-in-Bay school helped history to come alive for these children. They learned about Commodore Perry, the Battle of Lake Erie and how our island played such an important role in history. Civically minded islanders like John Ladd organized parades, built floats, and planned events that have remained happy memories. With out the incredible community efforts of 1913 and 1963 we might have lost touch with the deeper meanings of Perry’s Victory.
Mark Wilhelm, Julene Market and Jackie Wertenbach share memories that I bet helped shape them as individuals. It makes me happy to know that these former Put-in-Bay school children, who are our now the leaders of our community, dressed up and paraded through the downtown sharing their love of history joyously with the island.
These next 12 days I hope you enjoy the many amazing experiences that have been planned and share memories of this once in a lifetime event with your children and grand children. We can shape the future we envision, as we remember forward.


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