As interest in the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War continues, another war is marking its 200th anniversary starting this year. Although less well known, northwest Ohio played an important part in the War of 1812.
Sometimes referred to as "The Forgotten War," the bicentennial is being noted by the federal government as well as states where battles took place between 1812 and 1815. The most well-known battles in northwest Ohio were the Battle of Lake Erie near Put-in-Bay and two sieges on Fort Meigs, Perrysburg, in 1813.
"Perrysburg is named after Commodore (Oliver Hazard) Perry," said Jamie Oxendine of Tiffin, a commission member.
Perry's naval victory in Lake Erie was a turning point in the war.
Oxendine said he hopes Fort Meigs, one of the largest re-established forts in the nation, will become better known during the bicentennial.
"I'm amazed how many people say, 'Where's Fort Meigs?'" he said.
As director of Black Swamp InterTribal Council, he is representing the American Indian community on the commission. He was appointed earlier this year by the Ohio Humanities Council.
The commission's purpose is to recommend activities to honor Americans who served in Ohio during the War of 1812, and coordinate efforts with the federal government,
other states and Ontario, Canada.
The group also is charged with seeking grant funding for projects, and compiling an inventory of existing war markers, monuments, museums and other ties to the war.
Oxendine, an educational speaker about American Indians, said the group is making plans for events and has a speaker's bureau available. Organizations can visit the website for a list of speakers on various aspects of the war.
He speaks about the Native American perspective and already has done presentations at Bowling Green State University and Lourdes College. He is also booked to take part in the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Missisinewa (Indiana) in October and Feast of the Hunter's Moon (Indiana) in September.
"Unfortunately, we have no money, which is kind of sad because some other states got money," he said. "We're kind of starting from scratch, but we're doing pretty good."
Oxendine said the commission's new logo reflects the four factions involved in the War of 1812. While the young United States declared war on Great Britain, Canada also was involved, as were Native Americans on both sides of the conflict.
"I'm glad to be sitting on the commission," he said. "Everybody forgets the Native American perspective."
In the broad spectrum of world history, Oxendine said the War of 1812 has not been too momentous, except in parts of the United States and Canada.
He said England barely notes it happened.
"They were busy fighting for the freedom of Europe from the tyrannical Napoleon," he said.
And many scholars question what the war accomplished.
"We teach in school the Americans won the war," he said. "Canada says they won the war. In England, they don't even know about it.
"Nobody really won," he said. "Nothing was solved and everything basically went back to the way it was before the war started."
However, several important events happened because of the war.
It was during the War of 1812 - at the Battle of Baltimore - that Sir Francis Scott Key watched a flag with 15 bars and 15 stars flying in the breeze and he was moved to write "The Star Spangled Banner."
Oxendine said the commission is going to encourage county governments to fly the 15-star version of the flag for the next three years.
One of the first events in the works for the multi-year celebration is a ceremonial declaration of war June 18, followed by a tolling bell and raising of 15-star flags.
"There's not a lot (of events) this year because the war was declared in June 1812, but a lot of the main battles were in 1813 and 1814," Oxendine said.
Fort Meigs is planning a commemoration of the two sieges on the fort in May and August 1813, and a 200th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Lake Erie is planned for September 2013.
Tall ships representing the U.S. Navy and Great Britain are to make a 15-city tour, including Cleveland and Toledo, in commemoration of the Battle of Lake Erie.