As the country prepares to honor its military heroes and history this Memorial Day weekend, Old Fort Niagara was set to observe a milestone event Friday, marking the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Army peacefully taking control of the fort from the British, who had captured it during the War of 1812.
Honoring the American repatriation of Fort Niagara following the war, OFN officials planned to fly a 24-by-28-foot reproduction of the War of 1812 Garrison Flag in front of the visitor's center Friday. The full-size reproduction flag has 15 stripes and 15 stars to reflect the number of states in the United States of America as of 1795 (the year of the last flag legislation passed before the war).
Due to its size, the flag is only flown for special occasions.
The original flag (pictured) is on display in the fort's museum. It is older than "The Star-Spangled Banner" (both the song and the flag), and is the actual flag flown at Fort Niagara during the War of 1812.
Other planned events included area students participating in a repatriation-themed education program, a changing of the fort guard, musket firings, infantry drills, 19th century games, the fort's blacksmith, joiner and cooper shops in action, and learning about Native roles at the fort.
This weekend will see the "Soldiers Through the Ages" re-enactment from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit www.oldfortniagra.org.
Also taking place this weekend:
•Youngstown Veterans of Foreign Wars Lake Ontario Post 313 will distribute Buddy Poppies from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Melloni's Marketplace on Lockport Street in Youngstown and at Old Fort Niagara.
The VFW was the first veteran organization to nationally distribute poppies inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields." Voluntary contributions are used to assist and support local veterans and their families.
•Youngstown VFW Lake Ontario Post 313 will hold a public Memorial Day ceremony at the historic Fort Niagara Cemetery at 11 a.m., Monday.
Following the ceremony, a reception, open house and flag disposal ceremony will be held at the Post on 434 Third St. Residents who have unserviceable flags can drop them off at the post or bring them to the reception.
For more information, contact Lance Dickinson at 716-745-7524.
•As of this writing, the annual Memorial Day parade in Lewiston was cancelled due to a lack of funding for the luncheon.