By Tammy Derouin
When you step back in time by visiting a historical site, you develop a different kind of appreciation for what those who came before us endured. It's one thing to read about historical events or battles, it's another to actually see the landscape and structures or touch items and artifacts from years or even centuries ago.
The incline to Fort Mackinac is steep but it's worth the climb. The view is spectacular and the history is fascinating. I've traveled to the Mackinac Island a few times. On my most recent journey, as usual, the fort is my first destination. It's where I spend the most amount of time. For me, there's something very intriguing about walking along the same path, entering rooms and touching the same objects which were touched by so many over the course of generations. I wonder about the conversations which took place and the everyday challenges of a bygone era.
Fort Mackinac dates back to the American Revolution, but its roots are with Fort Michilimackinac, which dates back to 1715. Fort Michilimackinac was constructed by French soldiers in what is present-day Mackinaw City. The British gained control of the fort in 1761 after the French and Indian War. Once the American Revolutionary War was underway, the British disassembled the fort and moved it to its strategic location on the island. The fort and island became the territory of the United States after gaining independence from Great Britain. During the War of 1812, the British launched a surprise attack on the fort. The Americans were gravely outnumbered. They surrendered the fort to the British without a shot being fired. One battle did take place on the island when the Americans tried to recapture the fort, but they were defeated by the British. Once again, the United States claimed the fort as well as the island upon the conclusion of the War of 1812. The fort remained active until 1895.
As you learn about events or read about the challenges of daily life, you begin to realize just how much our standard of living is taken for granted. Food, clothing, medical, heat, hygiene products, water, communication and information are readily available. Another aspect which stood out was safety and security. Within the walls of the fort there was a reasonable expectation that you were safe. Beyond the walls, it was a whole different world.
As Americans, we have been blessed to live in a country, which for generations had an invisible fortress on our borders. We were safe. We were free to pursue life, liberty and happiness without daily worries of attacks. What happened in other countries did not happen in the United States. Surprise attacks have taken place. Unfortunately, the bad guys get through from time to time.
How an administration not only handles national security but how it treats and cares for the citizens is very telling. We no longer have the expectation that we are safe just because we are within our fortress. That can be traced back to the last administration. The neglect was painfully obvious. Opening our borders so anyone, including our enemies, could walk across without fear, was disgraceful. The Obama administration made us vulnerable and seemed to go out of its way, if not encourage it. The scandalous activity was never ending. Illegal alien voter fraud, creating dependency on the government, arming our enemies, insulting or ignoring our allies, consorting with the enemy, attempting to cause civil unrest by creating racial tension, targeting fellow Americans, restricting the military and under funding their needs are just a few examples.
As I stood on a balcony within the fort looking at our history and what the generations before us went through and accomplished to preserve freedom, I was overcome with sadness. It always comes back to history. If we do not know our history, what makes our country exceptional among nations we will lose it. If we do not know history, the powers that be will use that against the people and attempt to create a new reality. Just because it's on the news, doesn't mean it's true. Propaganda, spreading lies for political gain, has cost the lives of millions in the past century alone. Add enemy infiltration within the fortress and it's a whole new battle.
The sound of a very large American flag waving in breeze, not far from where I was standing, gave me encouragement and the usual feeling of pride. As I gathered my thoughts and prepared for my departure, I walked past a family heading into one of buildings. The little boy asked, “What's in here?” His father said, “History.” I smiled and nodded. That gave me hope.
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”