Nearly 1,000 elementary school students are expected to participate in an official observation of the national Flag Day holiday at Fort Ontario State Historic Site at 10 a.m. Friday, June 14.
Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students from across central New York will participate in ceremonies commemorating the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States of America June 14, 1777.
Fort Ontario was the site of two French and Indian War and two War of 1812 battles. The official Flag Day event will feature a recreation of the British turning Fort Ontario over to the United States in 1796, a hands-on history of the origin of the American flag by the Oswego Elks with participation by students, a history of flags that flew at Fort Ontario by Americorps volunteers, living history and musket demonstrations by members of the Continental Arms Collectors Association, World War II re-enactors, historic games, and self-guided tours of the fort.
The fort will be open to the public during the Flag Day with a special admission price. School groups must register in advance to participate. Those looking to register may e-mail Ian Mumpton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen will lead visitors in the Pledge of Allegiance. Fort Ontario Superintendent Paul Lear will provide historical background for the event.
“This year marks the beginning of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, a war in which New York State and Oswego played a prominent role,” said Lear. “Warehouses were built at Oswego during the war to store vast amounts of vital military supplies and equipment was forwarded to military operations along the Niagara frontier and Sacket’s Harbor.”
During the War of 1812 Fort Ontario guarded the supplies stored at and moving through Oswego; one British attack on Oswego in 1813 was driven off. In May 1814 a larger and more powerful British fleet, intent on crippling American ship construction at Sacket’s Harbor, took Fort Ontario after a two-day amphibious assault.
The 1814 Battle of Oswego-Fort Ontario ended with a stubborn defense of the US flag which had been nailed to the flagpole; it resides in the ancestral castle of the British land commander during the battle.
The 444th Engineer Company, 479th Engineer Battalion, USAR, now deployed to Afghanistan, maintains a reserve center on the old Fort Ontario Military Reservation.
“The members of the 444th proudly carry on a 258-year history of military occupation of the old army post,” said Lear. “A Corps of Engineers and US flag carried with the 444th during their 2007-08 service in Iraq will be displayed at the fort during the Flag Day event.”
Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at the north end of East Fourth Street in the City of Oswego.