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Published: Monday, 7/22/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

PUT-IN-BAY MEMORIAL

Visitors rave about new Perry quarter

Battle reminder is conversation piece

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A new quarter and postage stamp honor the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie. A new quarter and postage stamp honor the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie.
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PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio — So the question arises: Where were you when you first noticed a Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial quarter jingling around with your pocket change?

The commemorative quarter — part of the U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful series — has become quite a conversation piece on South Bass Island since a ceremony was held at the memorial three months ago today to mark its release.

Island businesses are doing their part to promote it. But some of the best publicity is coming from visitors eager to pass along their anecdotes that originated in other parts of the country.

In recent weeks, National Park Service employees have been regaled with such tales by people from South Carolina, Texas, and California, Steve Roberts, the memorial’s park ranger, said.

He said he takes that as a sign of how the coin — and a big piece of Ohio history — is quickly becoming ensconced in mainstream America.

“It’s one of those things that everyone here in the local community is pretty excited about,” Mr. Roberts said. “It’s pretty neat to hear how excited people are when they find those in their change.”

The quarter is a tangible link to the Battle of Lake Erie, the turning point of the U.S. victory in the War of 1812 when 27-year-old Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry defeated British naval forces on Sept. 10, 1813. The war, which actually lasted two and a half years, has been described as America’s second war for independence. The British were assisted by Canadians who, at the time, were en route to sovereignty.

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial commemorates not only the decisive victory, but also what later came to be known as the world’s most peaceful border. The United States has been at peace with Great Britain and Canada since the War of 1812 ended.

Taller than the Statue of Liberty, the Peace Memorial “connects us to the whole country” even more now with the release of the coin, Mr. Roberts said.

Up next is the release of a Battle of Lake Erie stamp being issued by the U.S. Postal Service on Sept. 10, the battle’s 200th anniversary. Just like the April 20 ceremony for the coin, an event to commemorate the stamp’s unveiling is to be held at the Peace Memorial.

The ceremony for the stamp is one of the highlights of Put-in-Bay’s final push to celebrate the bicentennial. Daily events beginning Aug. 29.

The stamp was recommended to the U.S. Postmaster by a citizen’s advisory committee that considers “tens of thousands” of requests annually, Roy Betts, spokesman for the Postal Service headquarters in Washington, said.

“This is one of the nation’s highest honors,” Mr. Betts said. “Students of history obviously will find this to be a fascinating collectible.”

The Battle of Lake Erie stamp will be a "forever stamp," meaning it will always be enough to cover the cost of the one-ounce rate for first-class mail.

The coin, designed by artist Don Everhart, is the second of 2013 and the 17th overall the U.S. Mint has released in its America the Beautiful quarters program that began in 2010.

It shows Commander Perry in the foreground with the Peace Memorial in the distance.

The stamp is based on a famous oil-on-canvas painting completed in 1873 by William Henry Powell.

The painting is on display at the head of the east stairway in the Senate wing of the Capitol. The scene depicts Oliver Hazard Perry in the small boat he used to transfer from his ruined flagship, the Lawrence, to the Niagara, the ship he used to win the battle.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079.



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