Several people jumped, but Alex Konoff didn’t flinch when five muskets were fired simultaneously just a few feet away from military-drill spectators in Maumee.
“Now I am happy and satisfied,” said the 8-year-old boy, who lives in Whitehouse. “I am here because I like the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War a lot, and I wanted to see them shoot the guns.”
The second-grade student at Whitehouse Primary School was one of about 200 people who attended a costumed drill re-enactment that highlighted a daylong War of 1812 recognition program at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library’s Maumee branch on Saturday.
Decked out in a tricorn hat, a toy musket in hand, and a shoulder bag for supplies by his hip, Alex was there with his sister and their parents. The items are Christmas and Easter gifts from his grandmother, he said.
PHOTO GALLERY: Remembering the War of 1812
The boy and about 15 other children watched intently as Dan Woodward, programs manager at Fort Meigs in Perrysburg, where local War of 1812 re-enactments often are held, and five Fort Meigs staff members and volunteers performed the drill featuring musket shooting and a bayonet charge, and talked about the life of a War of 1812 soldier.
The war “was fraught with consequences for the future,” said Donald Hickey, an award-winning author and a professor of history at Wayne State College in Wayne, Neb. “It shaped the United States, helped us understand who we are as a people, and where we were headed as a nation.”
Titled “Forgotten Conflict: Why the War of 1812 Matters Today,” Mr. Hickey’s hour-long lecture immediately preceded the re-enactment.
Mr. Woodward, 32, who wore the period uniform of a lieutenant of the Army’s 7th Infantry Regiment, said he was impressed with the event’s turnout and with the questions people asked him after his talk.
“The questions they asked were good, for example, why men enlisted in the army,” Mr. Woodward said.
“The answer is, ‘For a variety of reasons,’ such as patriotism, peer pressure, sense of honor to be kept for the nation, and the promise of 160 acres of land once you have served five years or until the end of the war, whichever came first.”
The War of 1812 helped forge the idea of the United States as one nation, and helped end Native American tribes’ “spirited resistance” to American settlement in the region around what became Toledo, the library said in a press release announcing the program.
Other highlights of the program included a military drill in which children could participate.
Each was given a toy musket and taught how to handle it while following a costumed re-enactor’s commands.
In the afternoon, an 1812 American Girl party featured a historical doll and book character whose adventures documented growing up during the War of 1812.
Young Konoff looked reluctant to go home after the re-enactment was over.
“I am going to enlist,” he said. “I will be a U.S. Army Ranger.”
Contact Mike Sigov at firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.