Officials remember Old Fort soldiers at Memorial Day ceremony

Napier says city must keep Old Fort a viable tourism destination


FORT MADISON – About 30 people gathered around a flag pole in the War of 1812 Battlefield Park on Monday to honor 23 fallen soldiers on Memorial Day.
The soldiers were those chronicled to have lost their lives at the outpost Fort Madison.
Lee County Supervisor Tom Schulz read the names of the 23 and said that only nine died from wounds suffered in combat.
“That should tell you how difficult the existence was in those days,” he said.
After a prayer in the soldiers' honor, Schulz read the names of the soldiers that are permanently etched into the memorial block that stands in the park. Then Andy Andrews, Fort Madison’s defacto historian, took the opportunity to tell those in attendance that the city is just another town without the Old Fort replica museum along the riverfront.
The museum has undergone some dismantling due to deterioration at the city’s direction. The fence around the building has been taken down as have several buildings that city officials said were unsafe and in danger of falling down.
“Fort Madison, we’re just another town without the Fort. If we don’t keep the Fort alive and the memory of our soldiers, we’ll just be another town,” he said.
Bill Napier, who was a founding member of the Old Fort Commission, said history can’t be allowed to fade. He said the memories and historical value of the Fort must remain. Napier is part of the newly reformed Old Fort Commission.
“I want to make it clear that I was not here when the original Fort was built,” he said to chuckles from the audience.
“But I am a lifelong resident of Fort Madison. I’ve enjoyed history, and I’m a veteran. One of the biggest problems we have today is when you go into the history of this relatively young but great nation, there’s an awful lot of people who say, ‘Who cares’ ‘History is boring’' 'What does this have to do with me?’.
“I think we fail sometimes to impress upon our young people that the blessing we enjoy today did not come by accident, or happenstance, or good fortune, but by hard work and risk and death, disease, and hostile environment. Those are the people that carved out this fine nation.”
Napier said if those lessons fade into obscurity, we are in grave danger.
“There will be a tendency to replace a very successful and revolutionary form of government to something that doesn’t work or doesn’t work as well. With all of its limitations and flaws, it’s still the best form of government ever created in this world,” he said.
“We are one nation under God. We uphold great principles, and great ideals hold us together.”
He said that’s why it’s important that the Old Fort Preservation Inc., the recently formed non-profit, is striving to preserve, recreate, and to represent Old Fort Madison.”
The Fort was the western-most outpost in the country at that time and the Louisiana Purchase had just been completed years before and was in the process of being explored.
He said it was important locally to insist upon a replica of Old Fort Madison being in existence and turn it into a temple honoring the contribution to the nation’s history.
Sharon Scholl-Nabulsi, the treasurer of the new commission said there were plans in place to rebuild the fence and several of the structures in the Old Fort, including the factory.
Andrews said 40 of the 68 people that visited the North Lee County Historical Society Museum wanted to visit the Old Fort and asked what had happened to it. He then committed to again making the Old Fort a viable tourism destination for the city with the work of the new commission.

Fort Madison, Lee County, Battlefield Park, War of 1812, Old Fort, Andy Andrews, news, Pen city Current, history, soldiers, Memorial Day,


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