The Race to Preserve the Battlefields of New York
An engaging one-hour documentary, showcasing the unique role New York State played in the War of 1812 and the importance of preserving its endangered battlegrounds
historic sites that are rapidly facing extinction beneath urban sprawl, commercial development and civic growth.
Tentative Premier Date: February 2014
Presented by WCNY-TV
About the Program:
Walking past any patch of land along the breezy shore of Lake Ontario, many would not immediately recognize the rocky coast as witness to some of our nation's most notorious conflicts. But along these waters, two nations met in a two and a half-year war that forged the path of a young America, still in its infancy.
In a sleepy North Country town, school children from around the state travel in yellow buses to visit the historic landmarks of the battle of Sackets Harbor. They learn about the story behind our Star Spangled anthem and how children, just like them, spent their days in the early 19th Century
and how their lives changed when war descended upon their hometown.
But the cannon fire across these shores does not echo as loudly as more well known conflicts like the Civil War or the Revolutionary War. Some historians distinguish the War of 1812 as America's second battle for independence. Trade embargoes and Indian land expansion were among two of the larger grievances that pitted the newly minted U.S. against a British Empire preoccupied by a war with France. And although many may consider it a minor engagement, the War of 1812 remains an important turning point in our nation's history. It was the first war America would wage under its freshly printed constitution. The conflict ignited a fierce spark of patriotism and pride that would help usher our country into a new age of prosperity.
200 years later, celebrations across New York State and Canada commemorate the veterans and battlefields of the War of 1812. But with each passing year, there is less and less physical evidence of this significant part of New York history. As the population grows and unchecked development expands, preservationists worry that the lands that played a vital role in U.S. history are disappearing at an alarming rate. And once they gone, so too are the opportunities of enrichment for generations of future Americans.
This year, WCNY brings together some of the nation's foremost experts on the War of 1812 that will help frame this chapter in our State history and reflect on why is it so important to preserve these sites for future generations. In addition, we will walk through the hollowed grounds of these fields of glory with some of the top battlefield archeologists. Their insights into the invisible secrets hidden just below the surface of frontlines are part of the tools that will help safeguard and preserve significant American battlefield lands in New York State.
From Oswego to Plattsburg to Ogdensburg to Sackets Harbor, WCNY will interweave the dramatic stories of America's second Revolutionary War with the modern day experts working to keep history alive.
It more than just an empty, wind-blown field
. It's the story of how a war, two centuries past, should not be left to the history books.
In addition to the documentary, WCNY will be engaging the public in each community to collect their comments, knowledge, observations and opinions about their battlefield areas. Two community engagement events, involving guest speakers, walking tour programs, and more will be held in each of the four communities with public input from these events to be included in the documentary.