SACKETS HARBOR, N.Y. (WWTI) — Memorial Day is an opportunity for people across the nation to honor those who have lost their lives while serving our country and those at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield are reminding people of the rich history right here in the North Country.
The historic site in Sackets Harbor is most well-known for its role as an active station in the War of 1812. According to New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, the area became the center of American naval and military activity for the upper St. Lawrence Valley and Lake Ontario after the war began in June of 1812.
At the time, woodlands in the area were used to provide ample timber, and a large fleet was constructed at the harbor’s extensive shipyard. Additionally, barracks were built to house thousands of soldiers, sailors, and mechanics who soon arrived to provide the manpower for the invasion and conquest of Canada.
Today the Battlefield is open to the public and features exhibits, outdoor signs, guided and self-guided tours, and a restored 1850s Navy Yard and Commandant’s House. On Saturday, “soldiers” were dressed up in accordance with various time periods and were available to answer the public’s questions and give tours of the historic site.
One of the soldiers was Scott Elliott who was dressed in a War of 1812 uniform. Elliot highlighted the importance of providing the community with information on the historic events that occurred in their own backyards.
So history is always like the fabric of a community,” Elliott said. “It’s what our ancestors did or where we come from. It’s what our great grandfather, great grandmothers. It’s our history. It’s our story. It’s not just a family story. It’s a community story, and Sackets is a very special area because of the engagements that happened here, which made it all part of the American story.”
Constance Barone is the manager at the historical site and said the staff was excited to honor the Memorial Day holiday as their season begins. She explained the significance of the site and its background.
“Sackets Harbor is ranked by the National Park Service as one of the top War of 1812 sites in the country, and it is ranked for a couple of reasons. One is the significance of the battle and the other is the ability for us to keep and save the open battlegrounds,” Barone said. “We are very positive about preserving our history, preserving our battlegrounds, and then interpreting that story through many different ways to our visitors and to our residents as well.”
Some of those visitors were Tyler Stevens and his wife who are from New Hampshire. Stevens explained why they decided to finish off their 6-week trip across the state in Northern New York.
“When we looked at Sackets Harbor, we noticed that part of the interest was the historic sites, and we prefer to do those kinds of things,” Stevens said. “You can’t do better than the combination of the water and the historic sites and the good weather.”
The site will continue to honor those who served the country on Memorial Day with a wreath-laying taking place at 8 a.m. at the Centennial Monument. Living history reenactments of the War of 1812 will begin at 10 a.m. at the site in the tree grove. More information on the site can be found on the site’s Facebook page or the NYS Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation website.