A key moment in American history is coming to life in Detroit next week. The U.S. Navy, Marines and Coast Guards are joining with civilian groups to commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 in a series of special events in Detroit September 4-10, 2012. The War of 1812 set into motion forces that made the United States a global maritime superpower, and also inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the U.S. national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner."
Nowhere was the war fought harder or with greater consequence than in the naval battles of the Great Lakes, where the British Navy met its match against the upstart Americans. As a result, the City of Detroit and its neighboring nation, Canada, will enjoy a key role among 30 other cities in the 1812 commemoration – and the only with international appeal.
"We are honored to play host to the War of 1812 celebrations taking place in Detroit and all around southeastern Michigan next week," says Dr. Jeff Pierce, Chairman of the War of 1812 Bicentennial committee. "For the first time in more than 13 years our community will be able to tour the Brig Niagara and Navy war ships, which will be docked near the GM Ren Cen. We invite individuals and families to join us for this rare opportunity in Detroit to help commemorate the Navy's rich history and heritage," Pierce says.
From September 4-10 Navy war ships and an exact replica of the Brig Niagara will moor along the Detroit riverfront and be available for civilians to tour. The Brig Niagara – a stunning tall ship that attracts sell-out crowds wherever it goes – will dock in Detroit at the GM Renaissance Center. The Brig Niagara was involved in one of the pivotal events in the War of 1812 was the Battle of Lake Erie, when Oliver Hazard Perry, commanding the Brig Niagara, regained control of Michigan and turned the tide of the war. More than one million people are expected to visit and view these ships – including the Brig Niagara, the USS Hurricane, USS De Wert and the USCGCGC Katmai Bay – to celebrate and learn more about American history and the role Detroit played in this significant battle. For more information on public tours and times, please visit www.1812Detroit.com.
General Motors Corporation is planning several commemorative events in front of the Renaissance Center where the ships will be docked, including a military country music concert Sept. 8 featuring three-time No. 1 Billboard Hot Country hit maker Darryl Worley. General Motors will also celebrate with a Navy Festival each day (Sept. 5-10), including Interactive flight simulators, an interactive submarine tank, a USMC display with vehicles and mounted weapons systems, a Navy helicopter display and more. Entertaining Navy and Marine band performances will also take place every day on stage outside the GM Ren Cen.
Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford Museum will also pay tribute to the War of 1812 Bicentennial giving active military members free admission on Sept. 6. The Navy and other branches of the military are also invited to enjoy free blood pressure checks provided by Oakwood Healthcare from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. that day. Oakwood will be stationed just outside the Gift Shop at the entrance of Greenfield Village.
St. Clair Metropark is featuring a series of events for the entire family – just up river from the lake where Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British Navy. Two performances will take place Friday, Sept. 7 when the U.S. Navy Band takes the stage, followed by the Michigan Philharmonic. Both will perform an 1812 commemorative concert. The tribute will also feature a F-18 flyover and an "Americana Medley" performance by the American House Traveling Choir.
On Saturday, Sept. 8. St. Clair Metropark will also play host to a softball game featuring the Detroit Red Wings Alumni versus U.S. and Canadian Armed Forces. Families may also enjoy 1812 memorabilia and historic artifacts on display during the commemoration.