by Sherry A. Meyer
In this city of broad shoulders, we have always helped each other get things done and achieve goals. And, right now, the Fort Dearborn Bicentennial Initiative needs help making stone soup to mark the 200th anniversary of Fort Dearborn and its legacy to us.
For months the Initiative has been working in cooperation with the city to plan the public commemoration of the Aug. 15 anniversary, but the city has no budget with which to pay for the ceremony. So, now it looks like the best way to finance the event is to make stone soup.
Anyone can contribute by making a donation at the website, FortDearborn.us. It doesn’t matter whether you can only contribute pennies or want to make a substantial donation. Every one’s contribution will help pay the costs of the Aug. 15 commemoration and then, over the next two years, enable the Initiative to bring educational programs about Fort Dearborn to schools and community organizations that otherwise couldn’t plan for such opportunities.
Fort Dearborn is Chicago’s predecessor, and stood beside the Chicago River where Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive now meet.
Aug. 15 marks the 200th anniversary of its evacuation during the War of 1812. Two miles from the Fort the evacuees were overtaken by a Native American war party in a violent clash which took centuries to brew, minutes to prosecute, and, yet, still, centuries to heal. At issue was the future each culture envisioned for the continent.
Together, those events and people began to forge Chicago’s dynamic “I will” spirit. Fort Dearborn is commemorated with a star on Chicago’s flag. The Aug. 15 bicentennial date is being planned as one of “175 Days to Love Chicago,” and the City Council has passed a resolution recognizing it as a day of remembrance and reconciliation. This anniversary presents an opportunity to bring all Chicagoans together in remembrance of our hometown’s origins and in celebration of the strength, vitality and spirit of our community, now a world class city.
The Fort Dearborn Bicentennial Initiative is a project of InSites, owned by geographer Sherry Meyer. It includes curriculum and public programs educating children and the public about the legacy of Fort Dearborn. The cultural, economic and geographic issues of that day remain current today, and can inform violence prevention efforts while strengthening communities.