• Time to plan for celebration
    January 26,2006

    As you know, there is a bill pending in the U.S. Senate that would establish the Star Spangled Banner and War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission to coordinate efforts to celebrate the 200th anniversary of that critical period of American history.

    In addition to a commission including state representation and other features, the measure establishes a Bicentennial Bicycle Trail. Introduced at the behest of the National Parks Service, the initial proposal did not include Vermont. We sent correspondence to various federal and state officials urging that the omission of Vermont from the bicentennial bill be rectified forthwith. I was informed by the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy that the bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee, of which he is the ranking minority member. Senator Leahy is monitoring the matter and when the bill comes before the Committee he will make the appropriate amendment to include Vermont in the legislation.

    The federal matter being settled, I believe it is time to begin focusing on the state role in the War of 1812 bicentennial events. Structures to coordinate such events in various areas traditionally and necessarily commence many years in advance of the commemorative year. Maryland and the city of Baltimore have commenced efforts toward official participation in the 1812 events. Those entities have already released the benefit of documentary media presentations and public interest in the celebrations as well as attendant academic attention and consequent benefits.

    I believe that the establishment of a Vermont state War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission along the lines of the federal commission and boards now being considered in other states and municipalities would be of immense historic, educational, tourism, artistic, cultural and economic advantage.

    While the bicentennial year may be a long time away, it is wise to begin planning and operations including formal official and volunteer structures well in advance to maximize educational and economic benefit from the celebration.

    Dennis McMahon, Esq.


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