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Bill Thayer

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Part 5

This webpage reproduces part of
Historic Old Fort Niagara

Claud H. Hulzén, Sr.

Old Fort Niagara Association

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p45  "The Harvest of Their Vision"

Though but seldom in the past 200 years has the sun been set to rest at Fort Niagara without the bugle call, those clarion notes since 1815 have been but echoes of the glorious past. It is just an ancient landmark with a wealth of significant history and the one remaining symbol of Niagara's each pioneer days.

Gradually the Old Fort was abandoned as military quarters, the garrison moving into the new buildings erected from time to time to the south, and now comprising a modern Fort Niagara, which is used for the training of troops.

In time of emergency, however, the old buildings of ancient Fort Niagara have been pressed into service for the housing of troops and supplies. The Old Castle has been used for such purposes as recently as during the World War.

We have discussed the ancient triangle, where the Old Fort stands, from the time before white man had placed foot in the virgin forests on the banks of Niagara until the present day. It has been the scene of many contests; of religious and social reformation, of dark horrors of Indian warfare and political imprisonment, and the center of a commerce without parallel in its day. It has been the scene of peace.

We have followed the period of French, English and American occupation. We have tried to visualize the significance of the ascendency of the English more than 150 years ago, to point out the commercial and political importance of the Old Fort. We have called attention to the part the Old Fort has played in the initial steps toward formulating a great commerce.

All of this historical fact from which we form our individual opinions and prejudices, is only the reflection of the lives and characters of those whose acts brought about the series of circumstances with which we have had to deal. Men of France, men of England and men of America, each in turn, have served well under their respective flags at Old Fort Niagara. Each in his turn has contributed in one way or another to the happy state of affairs which we know today.

 p46  Perhaps the writer can best express his thoughts in this connection by the relation of a few lines of verse which came to him as he stopped beneath the old Lombardy poplar trees which have stood in the Old Fort for two hundred years:

To stand beneath these silent Lombardies,

The sentries of the passing centuries,

To gaze far out, across the azure deep

In quiet communion with them as they keep

Their endless vigil o'er this sacred soil;

To live with them again the tragedies,

The hopes, the fears, the gallant victories

That marked the tireless pace of those who sleep,

Who lived and fought and died — that we might reap

The harvest of their vision and their toil.

Old Fort Niagara has been restored and is prepared as a lasting symbol to remind us of that price which was paid in struggle and strife, in life and in death, to create our America. With infinite care those responsible for the work have searched the archives of three nations that the restoration might properly and adequately represent fact. The Old Fort Niagara Association, representative of all the patriotic and civic societies on the Frontier and thousands of private citizens who made the restoration possible, is dedicated to the preservation of the Old Fort as a symbolic shrine, and historical institute.

Today over the ancient parade ground float the flags of three nations, the blue field and three golden Fleurs-de‑lis that René Robert Cavelier de La Salle carried to the old triangle; the blue field with the red and white crosses of St. George and St. Andrew, carried here by Prideaux and Johnson, and the stars and stripes with fifteen bars and fifteen stars, the American flag of 1796, first American standard to fly over Fort Niagara.

Theirs is the glory — the heritage ours.

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Across the Ancient Parade

Page updated: 15 Oct 13