Saturday, December 7, 2013
AUGUSTA - It wasn't easy laying the groundwork for a whole new country, with a form of government that -- 225 years ago, at least -- was new to the world.
Town crier Pete Morrissey rings a bell to make an announcement at Old Fort Western in Augusta on Saturday as part of the 225th anniversary celebration of the U.S. Constitution.
Photos by Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal
Bonnie Wilder, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, talks about a Patrick Henry toy bear as she begins her “Meet the Framers of the Constitution” program that was part of the events at Old Fort Western in Augusta on Saturday.
Staff photo by Joe Phelan
There were flags to be flown, founding documents to be written and armies to be raised.
Re-enactors in Revolutionary War period garb and spectators made up mostly of families celebrated, and re-created, all three of those things Saturday at Old Fort Western, marking the 225th birthday of the U.S. Constitution.
When it comes to raising an army, the Founding Fathers perhaps could have used a fellow like Pete Morrissey of Sidney, who, in his period tri-corner hat, gave marching and musket-handling lessons at the event.
He started with just three young boys under his charge, but by the end of his lesson had enlisted more than a dozen unsuspecting spectators as members of his militia, children and adults, each with a fake wooden musket propped on the left shoulder.
They included 8-year-old twins Lucy and Ameliah Olsen of Dresden, who both nodded yes, if somewhat apprehensively, when Morrissey asked, "Are you willing to serve his excellency General Washington?"
The girls and other newly assembled troops gamely followed their commander's orders, though, at one point, one of the twins was holding her wooden musket upside down.
"That was great. We weren't expecting there to be audience participation," said the twins' mother, Leanne.
The Olsen family, including dad, Jamie, and 2-year-old son Henry, who took a turn playing a drum while his sisters were marching, came to the event after learning of the celebration of the birthday of the Constitution. The children are home-schooled, and Leanne said the experience would help in their history lessons.
To celebrate, the Daughters of the American Revolution presented and raised a replica of the original Constitution Week flag that was used for the celebration of the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, in Philadelphia.
Old Fort Western was one of 50 sites, one in each state, chosen by the Daughters of the American Revolution to fly one of the replica flags.
"They celebrated a new form of government like the world had never seen, a constitutional republic," said Bonnie Wilder of Wayne, Constitution Week chairwoman of the Maine State Organization of DAR.
The Koussinoc Chapter of the DAR and Old Fort Western officials re-enacted the 1787 flag-raising Saturday, although Marj Dearborn of Mount Vernon, a DAR member who also works at the fort, said they were told by a flag expert the country was so new then that few records exist to indicate what, exactly, might have made up a flag-raising ceremony back then.
"In 1787 there was no Pledge of Allegiance, there was no flag protocol, no national anthem and not many patriotic songs because there simply hadn't been time to create them yet," Dearborn said.
Linda Novak, director and curator of the fort, said about 70 people attended the event over the course of the afternoon, including DAR and fort members.
Augusta Mayor William Stokes led participants in a group reading of the preamble to the Constitution.
Wilder presented an interactive, role-playing program, "Meet the Framers of the Constitution," inside the store of the 1754 Old Fort Western.
She also read a proclamation, signed by Gov. Paul LePage, declaring the week of Sept. 17-23 Constitution Week.
Participants, asked to mark the celebration with three cheers, responded, with some coaching, with an old-timey "huzzah, huzzah, huzzah!"
Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:
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The Daughters of the American Revolution presented a special flag commemorating the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution at Old Fort Western in Augusta on Saturday.