The hoopla surrounding The Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial celebration culminates on Sept. 10 with the commemoration ceremony scheduled in and around Put-In-Bay.
“It’ll be a very busy day,” said Friends of Perry Victory & International Peace Memorial Spokesman, Peter Huston. “It starts out at 9 a.m. when the U.S. Postal Service will release of the Commodore Perry stamp. That’s a pretty big deal. People who are stamp collectors will get a once in a lifetime opportunity to get the stamps, as well as a souvenir.”
From there, dignitaries and tourists will be boarding the flagship Niagara, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter The Biscayne Bay, The Goodtime and The Jet Express going out to The Battle of Lake Erie battle site, which is eight to nine miles off Put-In-Bay.
“There will be a wreath laying ceremony at the battle site that day,” Huston said. “The people who died in the Battle of Lake Erie are a very important part of the remembrance.”
That battle took nearly 70 American and British lives. The confrontation between the global power and the burgeoning United States had been brewing for a year or so. In March of 1813, Perry was sent by President James Madison to begin construction of a fleet of ships in Erie, PA. That summer, Perry sailed his fleet to Put-in-Bay to prepare for battle.
A blockade forced the Detroit-based British fleet to attack. The famous battle included nine U.S. vessels and six Royal Navy boats, all of which were captured. The victory gave America control of Lake Erie for the rest of The War of 1812.
As for The Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial, preparation began three years ago with Friends of Perry Victory & International Peace Memorial members spreading the word and scheduling events. Huston said the efforts weren’t in vain.
“Even despite the rainy days, I think there has been pretty strong tourism in the area,” Huston said. “We’re pretty convinced the number of people coming here for the bicentennial should be the most we’ve ever seen in this region. This is a regional event with people going not only here but to Port Clinton, Pelee Island and Kelleys Island. This is a pretty major regional event.”
When asked what he hopes people take away from The Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial celebration, Huston said, “We’re a small community with lots of people who will be working really hard to make their visit enjoyable and to understand how we connect with history in something like this. That’s a pretty important take away. It’s just not an island with an overgrown lighthouse, it’s a memorial to Perry’s victory. By sharing that message, people will tell their children who will remember this is an important moment in their lives and the country.”
For more information, visit theperrygroup.org.