The country was young in 1812, but Louisiana had already been around for a while. Although we achieved statehood only on April 30, 1812, we had been a colony under France from 1699-1763 and Spain from 1763-1803. With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, of course, Louisiana became an American possession. Although it was rough going at first, with the Louisiana Catholic French and Spanish Creole culture colliding with the Americans, we all pulled together when the country went to war. In many ways, America gained its identity as a nation during the War of 1812. Certainly, that’s when our “song” was written– what later became our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.
This week, we get to relive those events of 200 years ago, when the very young United States of America went to war with England in the War of 1812. Louisiana played a part in the war, of course, and NOLA Navy Week is kicking off the commemoration of the war this week, from April 17 through April 23. Similar celebrations will take place in Norfolk, New York, Cleveland, Boston and Baltimore, but we get the honor of beginning and ending the celebration. In 2015, on the bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans, there’ll be another celebration. And that’s only appropriate, because the British were out to get us here in 1812, and we stood our ground at the Battle of New Orleans, Battle of Lake Borgne, and another assault in Algiers and later at Fort St. Philip in lower Placquemines Parish before the British finally gave up.