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Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Spirit of 1812

FEW Americans remember the War of 1812, and if they do they are likely to forget that it marked the coming of age of their navy. “The Star-Spangled Banner”, written by an amateur poet on the back of an envelope during its battle of Baltimore, makes a bigger impression these days. But it was the heroic performance of America’s frigates against the world’s most powerful fleet that saved the young republic from possible extinction, despite the burning of the White House by the British in 1814.

Two centuries on, the navy is hoping to reclaim the memory of its greatest glory, and to polish its own reputation in the process. While the war (which lasted till 1815) may not feature prominently in a potted history of America, the service sees the conflict as a reminder of its enduring importance. It has spent some $12m on a three-year-long bicentennial celebration, to promote stirring events and exhibitions across the country.


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