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August 29, 2014 Published in Arts & Style

Alexandria History Festival Marks Conclusion Of War Of 1812 Commemoration

Mark Labor Day weekend on your calendar for cricket, a wreath-laying ceremony, tug of war, boat tours and more!  On August 30-31, the summerlong commemoration of the War of 1812 will end, culminating in a large festival on Sunday, Aug. 31. Also during the weekend, the British Embassy and the City of Alexandria will compete in a series of events to recognize and celebrate the two centuries of peace between the United States and Great Britain following the War of 1812.  To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the raid on Alexandria, in 2013 Mayor William D. Euille and City Council issued an invitational challenge to the Royal Navy, which was accepted by the British Embassy. The proclamation, which specifies that it “in no way should be taken as a formal missive from any government,” invites the British to three friendly modern-day competitions throughout the weekend.

Saturday, August 30

*   10 a.m. Wreath Laying at the Grave of Robert Allison, Jr.
Old Presbyterian Meeting House Cemetery & Columbarium, 600 Hamilton Lane, Alexandria
Honor the veterans of War of 1812 at this special ceremony, held at the historic cemetery complex of Alexandria. At its conclusion, guests will help mark War of 1812 veteran graves throughout the cemetery.
*   Noon – 6 p.m. Challenge #1: Cricket Match
Jefferson Cricket Field, Potomac Park, Washington, DC (north of 14th Street Bridge)
Team Alexandria v. Team Britain (British Defence Staff, UK Embassy)
Refreshments will be served at 3:15 p.m.
*   3 – 4 p.m. U.S. Navy Band Concert
Market Square, 301 King Street, Alexandria
*   4:30 p.m. Honors Ceremony
Alexandria National Cemetery, 1450 Wilkes Street, Alexandria
Featuring the Continental Color Guard with Fife and Drum

Sunday, August 31

*   11 a.m. Challenge #2: Yacht Race
Old Dominion Boat Club, 1 King Street, Alexandria
Team Alexandria (Old Dominion Boat Club) v. Team Britain (British Defence Staff, UK Embassy)
*   Noon – 5 p.m. Signature Event
Waterfront Park, 1A Prince Street, Alexandria
Living history, educational activities, boat rides courtesy of the Alexandria Seaport Foundation, and 1814 fun! Plus, Food Truck, Beer Tent, local organizational tables, vendors, and shop, Performances on stage, including the United States Navy Sea Chanters.

*   3:30 p.m. Challenge #3: Tug of War
Team Alexandria (City of Alexandria Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 2141) v. Team Britain (British Defence Staff, UK Embassy)
*   4:15 p.m. Presentations, Recognitions, and Concluding Remarks
Recognition of all the challenge winners will occur at this time.

While war was declared in 1812, it was not until 1814 that it reached Alexandria's shores.  On Aug. 29 Alexandrians awoke to find 138 guns of the British squadron "but a few hundrd yards from the wharves, and the houses so situated at they might have been laid in ashes in a few minutes," as described by the residents. The British promised not to destroy the town if the citizens surrendered all naval stores, shipping, and merchandise being exported.  Alexandria agreed, under much scrutiny by the nation. However, it was thanks to the actions on both sides that the "Old Town" of today is still preserved.  The City of Alexandria and community partners are commemorating Alexandria’s role in the war through lectures, concerts, and specialty tours, culminating in the Signature Event Weekend.

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