Cake? Candles? National Parks celebrates b-day with cannon fire

Members of the re-enactment group, Battery D, go through gun drill at English Camp this summer. - Courtesy of National Parks
Members of the re-enactment group, Battery D, go through gun drill at English Camp this summer.
— image credit: Courtesy of National Parks

A howitzer salute with full military ceremony will mark the National Park Service’s annual Founder’s Day at San Juan Island National Historical Park at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 25 on the American Camp parade ground.

The cannon, a replica 12-pound Mountain Howitzer owned by Friday Harbor's living historian group, Battery D/Company D, will be manned by volunteers in full 1860s U.S. Army uniforms, typical of those worn by soldiers at American Camp during garrison duty, 1859-1872.

Founder's Day is a free event and open to the public; transportation from the American Camp visitor center to the parade ground is available; info, 360-378-2240, ext. 2233.

The Founder's Day salute marks the first time that a howitzer has been fired at American Camp since all cannon were ordered removed in November, 1859, as part of the agreement of the joint military occupation of the island by the U.S. Army and the British Royal Marines, from March 1860 to November 1872.

During the Pig war crisis period, July-November 1859, the various U.S. company batteries conducted target practice in the sand dune area east of Pickett’s lane. A shell fragment from those exercises is on display in the American Camp visitor center.

“This is a unique opportunity to see a slice of American Camp history come alive, right at the base of the flagpole where a gun was once positioned for daily reveille and retreat” park historian Mike Vouri said. “We also look forward to celebrating the birth of one of the most remarkable government conservation agencies in the world.”

The ceremony will mark the National Park Service’s annual observance of its beginning in 1916 by Congressional decree, known as The Organic Act. A brief history of the park service and San Juan Island National Historical Park will begin the program, followed by the lowering of the American flag and the howitzer salute.




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