A small crowd gathered on the West Lawn of the Fort William Henry Hotel yesterday morning for the Fort’s annual Veterans Day ceremony. At their feet, more than 5,500 miniature American flags fluttered in the cool November breeze, each flag marked with the name of a veteran or current service member, and included the individual’s military branch and period of service stretching back to the colonial wars.
On the eleventh hour, French and Indian War reenactors fired off a cannon and musket salute with blasts that reverberated off the surrounding mountains and sent the smoke of burned powder drifting over the rows of flags. Following the Veterans Day Ceremony, the Fort opened its doors, offering refreshments — mulled cider, hot chocolate and platters of cookies — and free admission to the museum.
The Fort began the Field of Flags tradition in 2014 after two years of collecting the names of military members by asking visitors to the Fort William Henry Museum to enter information in a binder. The list has nearly doubled since that first year as the museum continued to collect names, harnessing social media and direct email to build the list. Last week, volunteers erected the Field of Flags in neat rows, organized by conflict and branch of service.
The Legacy Continues — Fort William Henry opens new exhibit
The original Fort William Henry was built at the head of Lake George in 1755 and fell in 1757. Visitors to the reconstructed fort learn of the colonial forces garrisoned there to protect British claims in North America. On this Veterans Day, the museum launched a new exhibit honoring the soldiers that followed with a display of 20th and 21st Century American military uniforms.
The exhibit, housed in the North Barracks, presents military garb from World War I to the present day. Included in the modern uniforms display is that of the Army Rangers, the elite force that grew from Rogers Rangers. Robert Rogers’ special force originated in the Lake George area, and their history is interwoven with that of Fort William Henry.
The Fort William Henry Field of Flags will remain on the lawn through Monday, Nov. 13. The museum is closed for the winter and will reopen next spring.
Feature photo: French and Indian War reenactors fire a musket salute to veterans at the Fort William Henry Field of Flags, Nov. 11, 2017. Photo Credit: David Sergio