DETROIT: History buffs can feast on War of 1812 anniversary celebration

The News Herald

Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2012


DETROIT — A key moment in American history will come to life in Detroit next month.

The U.S. Navy, Marines and Coast Guard are joining with civilian groups to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a series of special events in Detroit Sept. 4 through 10. The War of 1812 set into motion forces that made the United States a global maritime superpower and also inspired Francis Scott Key to pen what would become the national anthem.

“The free flow of commerce is absolutely essential for our prosperity and that of other nations … as the past continues to inform the present and guides us to the future, the War of 1812 celebration will commemorate our rich history and heritage, positively influence the millions of Americans who come to see us, and showcase and demonstrate the capabilities of today’s Navy,” said Admiral Gary Roughead, USN (Ret.), former Chief of Naval Operations, 2011.

Nowhere was the war fought harder or with greater consequence than on the Great Lakes, where the British Navy met its match against the upstart Americans. As a result, the city of Detroit and neighboring Canada will enjoy a key role among 30 other cities in the 1812 commemoration — and the only with international appeal.

Navy war ships and an exact replica of the Brig Niagara will moor along the Detroit riverfront and be available for civilians to tour. The Brig Niagara — a stunning tall ship that attracts sell-out crowds wherever it goes — will dock in Detroit at the GM Renaissance Center. The Brig Niagara was involved in one of the pivotal events in the War of 1812 at the Battle of Lake Erie, when Oliver Hazard Perry, commanding the ship, regained control of Michigan and turned the tide of the war.

More than one million people are expected to visit and view these ships to celebrate and learn more about American history and the role Detroit played in this significant battle. Visit for the tour schedule.

The Detroit branch of the 1812 Commemoration Committee will host a spectacular opening night Navy Welcome Gala from 7 to 10 p.m. Sept. 6 at Detroit’s Fox Theatre.

“This signature red-carpet charitable event promises to be one of the highlights of the bicentennial celebration,” said Dr. Jeff Pierce, co-chairman of the Detroit 1812 Commemoration Committee. “The gala welcomes visiting sailors and high brass from both the U.S. and Canadian naval ships visiting Detroit with an evening of music, food and entertainment.”

The guest list also includes a who’s who of Detroit area celebrities, including pre-eminent local business and industry leaders and professional athletes. Proceeds from the evening will benefit several Michigan-based nonprofit organizations, including RockStar Warriors, Operation Homefront, Wounded Warriors, Athletes Unlimited, Navy Sea Cadets, Detroit Public Schools and Paralyzed Veterans of America. Tickets are $100 and $250 and can be purchased online at

General Motors Corp. is planning several commemorative events in front of the Renaissance Center, including a military country music concert Sept. 8 featuring three-time No. 1 Billboard Hot Country artist Darryl Worley. GM will also celebrate the bicentennial with a Navy Festival Sept. 5 through 10, including Interactive flight simulators, an interactive submarine tank, a USMC display with vehicles and mounted weapons systems, a Navy helicopter display and more. Entertaining Navy and Marine band performances will also take place every day on stage outside the GM Ren Cen.

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