by Carreen Schroeder
Mark your calendars for Thursday, Dec. 19, and help commemorate the 200th anniversary of the British attack on Old Fort Niagara and the Village of Youngstown.
It is one of three significant historical events taking place in northern Niagara that day - the others being "Flames through Lewiston" and the unveiling of the Tuscarora Heroes Monument (see related story).
With approximately 130 "British" re-enactment soldiers dressed in authentic, historic clothing and carrying weaponry specific to the time period, Fort Niagara will be attacked at precisely 5 a.m. Waiting for the attack, will be close to 60 "American" re-enactment soldiers also dressed in period-specific garb. Following the attack, the re-enactment soldiers from both sides of the border will travel to Falkner Park in Youngstown to take part in the 7:15 a.m. commemoration of the burning of the village. Re-enactment soldiers will ignite flares and fire musket volleys as a symbolic gesture of this historic event.
The community is invited to experience the early morning events at the fort, the Falkner Park ceremony as well as those in the village, which include historical programs at St. John's Episcopal Church on Main Street, starting at 8:15 a.m. Local eateries are expected to be open for breakfast.
Also that day, some 650 fourth- to seventh-graders from Lewiston-Porter, Wilson, Tuscarora and Stella Niagara will visit the Village of Youngstown beginning at 9:30 a.m. Re-enactment soldiers will demonstrate to students how the fort was captured on that fateful day in 1813.
Students will also be taking an active role in the educational programs running throughout the morning. At four different locations throughout Youngstown, students will be involved in hands-on activities, learning about daily life in the early part of the 19th century. They will not only learn about the clothing, trade industry, music and penmanship of this time period, but by being on the very soil where the attack took place, they will be given the opportunity to truly appreciate the harsh conditions that soldiers on both sides of the border had to endure 200 years ago.
For students, Old Fort Niagara Executive Director Bob Emerson believes this is an "excellent opportunity to instill an appreciation for veterans by trying to impart, even in a small way, the sacrifices they made for us today."
Jason Danielewicz, a Lewiston-Porter Middle School social studies teacher, says that classes will rotate through a series of stations, engaging the children in topics ranging from quilling and music, to maps, surveys and military life.
Youngstown historian, author and researcher, Gretchen Duling, Ph.D., stated that there will be a number of figures on site who will address the crowd at various stages throughout the morning. Village of Youngstown Mayor Raleigh Reynolds also will be participating along with Suzanne Simon Dietz, Town of Porter historian.
For more on the 200th commemoration of the attack on Old Fort Niagara, contact Emerson at 716-745-7611, ext. 228, or visit www.oldfortniagara.org.