War of 1812 Commemoration on Campus
Special events are planned statewide to mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Michigan played a prominent role, with Fort Mackinac the site of the first skirmish and other battles waged near Detroit. To commemorate the declaration of war, a brief ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. Monday, June 18, outside the bookstore entrance to the University Center. Participants will include Paul Lang (Academic Affairs), Lt. Col. Kyle Rambo (Military Science), Marquette Mayor John Kivela and Russ Magnaghi (History), who was appointed to the War of 1812 State Bicentennial Commission.
“Lt. Col. Rambo and two officers will raise a 15-star flag of the period and a British flag,” said Magnaghi. “We’ll also play The Star-Spangled Banner, which Francis Scott Key wrote after Fort McHenry in Maryland was attacked by the British Royal Navy during the War of 1812. There will be some comments, but we’ll keep it brief and we invite the campus community to join us.”
In the opening skirmish on July 17, British soldiers surprised and captured the military outpost Fort Mackinac. American forces spent the next two years struggling to regain control of the island and the Great Lakes. Magnaghi said a different outcome would have drastically altered the region and a prominent local industry.
“If we had a hostile border with Canada, Upper Peninsula mining would have been impacted because where would the canal have gone? Instead, it was a peaceful frontier with clearly defined boundaries, so Michigan is living in harmony with the Canadians. And to put it in practical terms many might appreciate, if there was no War of 1812, there wouldn’t be any Detroit Red Wings. Two Canadian entrepreneurs started the hockey team that eventually became that franchise.”