Island 4th of July Celebrations Highlight History
Simple, yet meaningful programs were offered throughout the day highlighting the military outpost's role in colonial days when the country declared itself independent from British rule.
Honoring soldiers for their service, said Katie Cederholm, curator of education at Mackinac State Historic Parks, "that is what the fort is all about."
In a solemn ceremony, veterans and those currently serving in the armed forces and visiting the fort were asked to join historical re-enactors as they marched across the parade grounds. Visitors applauded. The group stood at attention as a 36-foot-long American flag was raised in front of the Officers' Hill Quarters.
He was dressed in uniform, a requirement of his unit when in public on a holiday.
First established as Fort Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City, the fort was moved by the British to the less vulnerable Mackinac Island during the American Revolution. Today, it is Michigan's only remaining American Revolutionary era fort.
Visitors sought spots on the porch of the Soldiers Barracks, on benches, and steps to view reenactments of military activity during the 1700s. The programs were offered by historic interpreters dressed in military uniform of the time. A popular reenactment of the day was of a court martial.
"You hear people singing, they stand for the veterans that come and visit. All of that combined into one is very meaningful."
Brett Yzquierdo from Holland, Michigan, a second year historic interpreter at the fort, periodically stood overlooking the harbor from the porch of the Officers Wood Quarters. He played patriotic music on a fife.
Cannon-firing demonstrations were offered, and a 38- rifle salute recognizing each state in the Union at that time. Enthusiastic visitors cheered as their state was called and the rifle fired.
"For all of the people who volunteer and work at the fort," said Ms. Cedarholm, "it's their favorite day of the year."
Historic interpreters visited with fort guests, answered questions, posed for photographs, sang, played music, and organized colonial games and dances within the fort walls on the parade grounds.
In the evening, red and white checkered table clothes were spread about the grounds as visitors took part in an American Picnic catered by Grand Hotel.
Shannon Larsen, scout coordinator at the fort, said normally each Saturday Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops are in transition, with one troop leaving and another arriving, however, the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan volunteered to arrive early to participate in July 4 events including the flag ceremony.
Girl Scout Emma DiCello, 17, of Livonia, said her friends envoy her for being on the Island and doing the service at the fort.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," she said.
The small flag flying over the parade ground was lowered by the Girl Scouts and the large flag quickly put in place. The bugle sounded as the flag was raised in front of the Officers' Hill Quarters, followed by "The Star Spangled Banner" played on fife.
In the formal ceremony that took place several times Saturday, 10 Girl Scouts marched from the Scout Barracks, along Garrison Road, up the Avenue of Flags, and into the fort with a 36-foot long flag draped over their right shoulders. In respect for the flag, the girls do not talk on their hike to the fort.
"When we're walking over there, we're having this proud feeling," said Girl Scout Hannah Ortman, 18, of Birmingham. "Not everyone gets to do what we are doing today and we know that it's a great honor."