For War of 1812 Bicentennial, Indifference From Albany

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SACKETS HARBOR, N.Y. — Clayton F. Nans, a 57-year-old retired Marine colonel, halted his Chevrolet pickup truck near Lake Ontario recently and pointed to a grassy embankment. It was the very spot, he said, where British troops first made landfall in this upstate village, before American soldiers fought off their invasion.

That engagement was two centuries ago, in the Second Battle of Sackets Harbor, a key New York moment in the War of 1812, whose bicentennial is fast approaching. And Mr. Nans, who periodically dons the blue woolen coat of an early 19th-century Marine as a War of 1812 re-enactor, is upset that New York State is not doing anything to commemorate it....

Around North America, local and national governments are preparing to mark the anniversary. The Canadian government has earmarked $28 million to support as many as 100 battle re-enactments and commemorative events, as well as a new monument in the Ottawa area and the restoration of historic sites, and even an iPhone app that teaches about the war. American states from Michigan to Virginia have been planning for the milestone for years, setting up fireworks displays and war-themed license plates and educational programs.

But for three years in a row, governors of New York have vetoed legislation to set up a statewide bicentennial commission to plan events for the anniversary of the war, which has long been overshadowed by the more celebrated Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Gov. David A. Paterson, who vetoed the measure in 2009 and 2010, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who vetoed it in September, said New York’s tight finances meant the state could not afford to mount its own effort....

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