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Havre de Grace to launch license plate for War of 1812 bicentennial

It's been 200 years since the War of 1812 upheaved the young United States, and residents of Havre de Grace could soon mark their cars with a new testament to the city's role in that fight.

Havre de Grace's tourism office, in partnership with City Council President Billy Martin and Councilman Randy Craig, unveiled a new logo this week that commemorates the war's bicentennial and will be featured on a state license plate.

"We really think, the three of us working together, our involvement in Havre de Grace in the War of 1812 is the defining point of our town history," Martin, who is also running for re-election, said. He first revealed the logo during a campaign kick-off Wednesday.

"We believe with this logo on the license plate - and any citizen in Maryland can get one - we will be leading the way in this kind of commemoration for the state," Martin said.

"I don't want the bicentennial to catch the city sleeping," he added.

The logo features the dates 1813 and 2013, as the city's defense by John O'Neill and fellow militiamen took place May 3, 1813, the date a British force, under command of Rear Adm. George Cockburn, invaded the city and burned many of the homes and other buildings.

The logo has an image of a historically accurate 15-star American flag, appropriately displayed to the left of a British Union Jack flag, on top of a cannon.

"We wanted something that was a period cannon," Martin explained.

Like the city seal, the logo also has a banner that reads "Defense Patriae," the city's motto, at the bottom.

Martin said he and Craig started talking about getting a license plate about a year ago.

"[Randy Craig] and I were talking about what the city's going to do for the War of 1812," he said, explaining Ocean City has a similar city license plate and it seemed like a good idea.

He does not recall Havre de Grace doing any similar projects, although Havre de Grace Tourism Director Brigitte Peters said some groups in town, like the Lock House Museum, might have.

Bill Watson, a local graphic designer, agreed to design the logo for free.

Peters hopes to get the license plate approved within a month. She said she needs to get 25 registered vehicles to the Motor Vehicle Adminstration.

Martin said: "We are hoping the public will buy into it."

The plate will cost $35 to $40 and will be available through the tourism office.

"Of the few people I have talked to, they have all contacted Brigitte [Peters]," Martin said.

Mayor Wayne Dougherty said he is very proud of the project and those who worked on it.

"I think the logo is beautiful," he said. "I have already signed up for one."

For more information, contact Havre de Grace Tourism, 410-939-2100.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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