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Bicentennial of War of 1812 marked at courthouse ceremony



The war that brought the British face to face with the Americans of a new United States ended with neither side a victor, but that tumultuous time in 1812 left a legacy of courage.

One of the most notable examples came from Capt. James Lawrence, whose heroic cry of “Don’t Give Up the Ship,” is now the motto of the U.S. Navy.

Two hundred years ago on June 18 the War of 1812 was officially declared. On Monday, Lawrence County dignitaries gathered at the courthouse lawn to mark that event and raise a 15-star United States flag on the courthouse flagpole.

“Ohio was the 15th state to be admitted to the union in what was a very young United States of America,” Ironton attorney and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Scott Evans told the crowd. “This was the first war that came after we became a nation.”

Joining Evans at the podium was Ohio University Southern history professor Bob Leith who detailed the short, but dramatic naval career of Lawrence, for whom the county was named.

“What he said immortalized him,” Leith said.

In fact, other well-known names in the county also find their roots in Lawrence’s saga, Leith said. Chesapeake was the name of the ship Lawrence commanded at the time he was mortally wounded by a British fire and Burlington, was the name of his New Jersey birthplace.

Also participating in the event were members of the Lawrence County Historical Society who appeared in 19th Century dress and the honor guard of the VFW 8850.

“The war was a draw but we had stood up and defended our national honor,” Evans said.

The 15-star flag will fly from the courthouse flagpole through the week and then be brought down to be used for special occasions.