By Rev. George A. Reed, Contributing Writer
OSWEGO, NY – It has sat on a bluff on the east side of the Oswego River for 255 years protecting Oswego from invasions from the North.
The old fort has been attacked by France, Indians, English, American and threatened Canadian forces.
American troops burned the fort during the American Revolution.
The old fort has sent troops to the South during the Civil War, to the Philippines during the Spanish American War, to France to fight Kaiser Bill and around the world to defeat the forces of Germany, Japan and Italy.
The American Army has reduced forces to a Caretaker Sergeant.
Its buildings have been abandoned and allowed to degenerate.
Children played in the old structure.
The Army, having no further military use for Fort Ontario, turned it over the Department of the Interior to house survives of Hitler’s Holocaust.
The property was turned over to the city of Oswego and its buildings were used as temporary housing.
Old buildings were torn down and the old fort could have suffered the same fate.
The actions of the Oswego County Historic Society and the chamber of commerce saved the fort.
Once again, Fort Ontario is under attack.
The budget axe has is about to fall on Fort Ontario.
Its mission is no longer to defend against foreign attack.
Since 1949, Fort Ontario’s mission has been to educate and remind future generations of the sacrifices of men and women who built this country.
In war and in peace the old structure has served Oswego and the Nation.
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
In 1814 Fort Ontario was once again under attack.
The fort had been abandoned by the U. S. Army and allowed to fall apart.
No troops were garrisoned at the fort.
The village of Oswego had grown up at the mouth of the Oswego River.
Threat of war with England led to a ship building war on Lake Ontario.
In 1809, the Ontario was built on the west side of the village.
Oswego became a source of supplies for the main Naval Base at Sockets Harbor which is also under attack by the budget axe.
In 1813 and once again in 1814 the fort was attacked by British Naval and Army forces.
On both of these occasions militia troops from neighboring communities came to the defense of the crumbling fort.
Outnumbered and equipped by three cast-off canons, the British forces were driven off in 1813.
In 1814, the English ships and troops returned to attack.
Once again the citizen solders stood defense.
Can we do any less currently to defend this historic site?
We are not called to shed our blood, but we must let our leaders in Albany know that we will defend our homes and our economic security.
Tourism is our largest industry.
The North Country can not loose another industry.
There are other parts of the state budget that can be cut without damaging an already depressed region.
New York State Parks and Historic Preservation needs to look at its use of personal.
We do not need the number of administrators and curators who are not directly serving the people.
Call on our leaders to review its man power use.