Aubertine: Passage of 1812 Bill Will Help Tourism

ALBANY (June 29, 2010)—The New York State Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Senator Darrel J. Aubertine to create a commission to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812 (S.6990b).

“Even though we had to make tough budget choices and are not able to fund the commission, we still should commemorate the anniversary of this war and celebrate our common heritage with Canada,” said Senator Aubertine. “Northern New York played a crucial role for the entire length of the War of 1812 and our region saw as much or more combat than any other region in North America.”

“The establishment of a New York State War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemoration Commission will provide New Yorkers and the Nation with a way to remember and honor the sacrifices our ancestors made to preserve our freedom,” said Barb O’Keefe, President of the Fort LaPrésentation Association in Odgensburg. “The creation of a formal NYS Commission will gain credibly with other state, provincial, and international groups and Commissions. By having an umbrella group statewide efforts can be coordinated. The 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 is a wonderful tourism opportunity. The NYS French and Indian War 250th Anniversary Commission sponsored events generated approximately 9 million tourism dollars for New York State.”

Teresa Mitchell, President and CEO of Seaway Trail, Inc, Sackets Harbor, NY, serves on the New York State 250th French and Indian War Anniversary Commemoration Commission and said she looks forward to working with another group of knowledgeable individuals to bring New York’s War of 1812 history to life.

It’s hard to imagine that nearly two-hundred years ago, the picturesque region along the entire length of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail was a war zone, but it was” said Teresa Mitchell, President & CEO of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, Inc. “There is a great story to be told and a lot of history here waiting for visitors re-discover. The War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemoration Commission will play an important role in celebrating the area’s rich international heritage and will promote regional tourism. After all, people who come to explore the forts and battlefields along the byway will stay to enjoy the world class dining, outdoor recreation, natural beauty, and another amenities offered along the 518-mile Great Lakes Seaway Trail.”

Celebrating this milestone gives New Yorkers the opportunity to appreciate and reflect on our rich history. Many crucial moments in the war came at sites in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. Senator Aubertine worked to ensure that each of these counties would be represented in the statewide commission.

“The public spoke and our state leaders heard them,” said Connie Barone, site manager for the Sackets Harbor Battlefield. “This season the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site will once again serve visitors by telling the story of the War of 1812 through hands-on programs and authentic events. Hundreds of War of 1812 re-enactors will flock to Sackets Harbor for this year’s North American War of 1812 Grand Tactical on July 31 – Aug. 1. This prelude to the War of 1812 Bicentennial is going to give visitors a real taste of what’s to come during the bicentennial years as we tell the story of those who shaped this country’s early independence.”

The New York State War of 1812 200th Anniversary Commemoration Commission will plan and execute an organized series of War of 1812 reenactment tourism events. The tourism events will highlight the following key sites: Old Fort Niagara, the Battle of Ogdensburg, the Battle of Plattsburg, Fort Wadsworth, Sackets Harbor, and some other events to be determined.

The 48th Senate District of Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties contains more sites on the front lines of the war than any other region of the state. These sites include Fort Ontario, Sandy Creek, Sackets Harbor, Morristown and Ogdensburg. Visitors can explore these historic sites by traveling the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, which is a series of connected roads that leads to the forts and historic sites that tell the story of the War of 1812 today.

Senator Aubertine added, “In many ways, the effects of the War of 1812 have shaped the identity of our region for the last two hundred years. This is truly an international celebration and this commission honors our past, renews our ties with to our neighbors and cousins across the Canadian Border, and celebrates our unique regional heritage.”

A similar bill was passed by the Legislature last year with overwhelming bipartisan support, but was subsequently vetoed by Governor Paterson citing fiscal concerns. Recognizing the importance of this legislation and the economic benefit of a statewide effort coordinate the bicentennial of the War of 1812, Senator Aubertine worked closely with legislative leaders in both houses and with the Governor to pass a modified version of the bill that addressed the Governor’s earlier concerns.