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Navy will commemorate Bicentennial of War of 1812 and Star-Spangled Banner

22 June 2011, Wednesday

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and the chairman of Operation Sail, Inc., Jose Fuentes, today announced a twelve-port public/private partnership for the bicentennial commemoration of the War of 1812 and the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner.

“Beginning next year and continuing through 2015, the US Navy, Marine Corps , and Coast Guard – the United States maritime services along with Operation Sail and host of great partners will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and America’s symbol” Mabus said.

Mabus and Fuentes said that week-long events, including parades of warships and sailing vessels, public visitation, spectacular air shows, international athletic competitions, and community relations activities will mark the occasions in New Orleans, New York City, Norfolk, Baltimore/Annapolis, Boston, New London, Milwaukee, Chicago, Toledo, Cleveland, Detroit, and Buffalo.   The Navy’s four annual events on the West Coast will also be themed “Our Flag Was Still There” and include special shipboard exhibits: Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and San Diego.

They made the announcement in a ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, home of  “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key during the battle of Baltimore in 1814.  Mabus declared that the unifying theme for the events is drawn from the anthem itself: ‘Our Flag Was Still There’.

The Chief of Naval Operations has invited 120 countries to send appropriate combat ships as well as their national academy sail training tall ships to America, Mabus noted.

“Navy and Operation Sail have partnered in producing major patriotic events for more than 50 years, and we look forward to another majestic spectacle of tall ships and international navy ships next year,” Fuentes said.

OpSail, the Congressionally chartered non-profit producer of tall ship events, has partnered with the Navy for previous American milestones such as the 1976 bicentennial of American independence, the 1986 State of Liberty centennial, and Millennium in 2000.

“Bringing the tall ships of the world back to U.S. waters for the commemoration of this glorious American milestone excites the imagination,” Fuentes said.  “Throughout 2012-2015, millions of people will witness these graceful and majestic sailing ships as they parade in together, and celebrate brotherhood of the sea, and of our freedoms.”

States, municipalities and civic organizations have formed host committees to organize the details of the week-long events in each port in concert with Navy officials and OpSail executives.

In 2012, a number of the Navy ships will continue into the Great Lakes for a series of high-profile port visits in cities along the Canadian and U.S. shorelines, Mabus said.  Fleet Weeks, Navy Weeks and other annual events will use the commemoration as a teaching tool to impart important lessons about America’s maritime heritage.  As the commemoration extends into 2013, 2014 and 2015, numerous conferences, seminars, teaching moments and observances will take place in venues that were crucial to the outcome of the conflict.

Fuentes noted the economic impact of the activities planned: “OpSail events contribute to the economy of participating port cities through increased hotel bookings, restaurant reservations, sales and new infrastructure,” he said, “and they attract significant national and international media coverage.”
Mabus closed his remarks by noting, “As we commemorate Old Glory and the War of 1812, we ought to remember the delicate weaving of history that has brought America to this place of great influence and greater responsibility.”

Key dates for the Navy / OpSail ship visits include:
New Orleans, Louisiana, April 17-23
New York, New York, May 23-30 (Memorial Day / Fleet Week NYC)
Norfolk, Virginia, June 1-12 (Harborfest Norfolk / USO Patriotic Festival VA  Beach)
Baltimore / Annapolis, Maryland, (Flag Day) June 13-19
Boston, Massachusetts,  (Fourth of July) June 30-July 6
New London, Connecticut, July 6- 8
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 8-13
Chicago, Illinois, August 15-20
Toledo, Ohio, August 22-27
Cleveland, Ohio, (Labor Day Weekend) August 27-September 4
Detroit, Michigan, September 5-10
Buffalo, New York, September 12-17