You Can't Forget What You Don't Remember

The de facto motto for 9/11 this year was "Never Forget" and while I don't think we are yet in jeopardy of nationwide amnesia over that day of cataclysmic violence against innocents, it is going to happen-- this year is the first time my high school students, who are seniors, don't remember the event (they were three years old at the time) and eventually 9/11 will just be a page in a history book; all this did inspire me to remember something that I may have never forgotten (because I never learned about it) and so I ran out to the library and checked out Walter R. Borneman's book 1812: The War That Forged a Nation . . . which is heralded as the best popular account of the War of 1812; so far the book has put me to sleep in multiple places in my house (sometimes several times in a row . . . I wake up, read another page, and then fall back to sleep) but at least I've gotten the gist of the origin of the war: the British were impressing U.S. Seamen into their Royal Navy, they were impeding our trade with France -- because of the Napoleonic Wars, they fired on an American frigate because they wanted to board the ship and search for deserters, and they were inciting Native Americans on our borders . . . not that inciting the Native Americans was always a surefire alliance, as they certainly realized that the British were just as greedy and dangerous as the Americans . . . the only detail I remember so far from the book is that the British took control of an American outpost on Mackinac Island, Fort Michilimackinac, and on a warm June morning in 1763, the Chippewa gathered to play a game of lacrosse; the British soldiers came out to watch the contest and when the leather ball "inadvertently" flew through the open gates of the fort, the Chippewa followed the play . . . and on the way in, the squaws handed them weapons that had been hidden in their blankets, and the Chippewa proceeded to slaughter nearly every British soldier in the fort . . . a trick play that would have made Pop Warner proud (especially since he pioneered many of his trick plays while coaching the Carlisle Indians, an undersized Native American team that represented the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and compiled an astounding winning percentage and competed with the likes of Harvard).

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