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Despite the terrible tragedies of Sept. 11, a group of veterans met at Crab Island to honor the dead buried here from the War of 1812.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, while the world watched in horror the events unfolding in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, a group of men made their way up the western shore of Crab Island. They knew of the anguish the nation was experiencing at that moment, doubtless most would have liked to have been at home with their families at that difficult time, yet they had come for a very special purpose.
These men, many of them veterans of other American wars, had come to honor the seamen who perished at the Battle of Plattsburg and are buried at Crab Island. Clinton County Historical Association Director John Tomkins captured that moment for us with Roger Harwood's camera. It is one photo that speaks volumes...
In the last 13 chapters of The Secrets of Crab Island, this writer has tried to explain the significance of this tiny limestone isle in the midst of Cumberland Bay. We have explored the island's history from prehistoric times until today. We know that other generations have tried to honor those buried here. Unfortunately, to some extent, their efforts may have seemed futile. Nothing less than an Act of Congress called for the creation of a national military park here. Over the last century, the United States government and the government of the great State of New York each authorized the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for the preservation and maintenance of Crab Island.
Yet, a private citizen voluntarily mows and cleans up the trash. He does it because it needs to be done.
It is not the intention of this work to point fingers or assign blame. It IS the intention of this account to promote action. Something needs to be done about Crab Island. Jim Bailey said it in 1988. Nothing was done. It is my sincere hope that something positive will result from my stating it in 2002. Wiser men than I have stated what needs to be done. Much of the work needed has been listed elsewhere in this missive. I will not venture to repeat it here. It is obvious; however, that something needs to be done about Crab Island...
Crab Island's tale is the story of America. Here are buried those who died defending the United States from one of the last foreign attacks on its mainland until September 11, 2001. Their graves are somewhere on the island, American and British seamen together. The United States and Great Britain have been allies in one great conflict after another since that terrible time in the Republic's early history when the two nations fought each other. They stand together still.
There can be no better way to conclude this account than by listing the names of those who are buried here. These men have names. They had families and loved ones. There is nothing on Crab Island to tell the world it is their final resting place...
Individuals presumed buried on Crab Island*
There are many people who have contributed to the Secrets of Crab Island project. I am deeply grateful to all of them. This piece has been in the works for years. Among those to whom I owe a debt of appreciation are my wife Lynn; for her unending support, suggestions and proofreading, Roger Harwood, Greg Furness, John Tomkins III, Jim Bailey, and Addie Shields.
On November 11, 2002, Crab Island was featured in a WPTZ/Lake Champlain Basin Program Champlain 2000 story.
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