That's Pappy in the bottom center there, hiding behind the drum

How inspiring! A mere 200 years after the U.S. waged a bitter war against Canada and Great Britain (partly because they supported the rights of indigenous peoples, which threatened to limit American expansion) representatives from these former enemy nations came together at Fort McHenry to sign an historic, inspiring “declaration of peace.” Politicians and diplomats from Canada, the U.K., and the United States spoke about our nations’ ally status. The relevant heads of state were present as videotaped messages — offering hopeful words for the alliance.

I’m sure most of us thought we’d never see peace among these countries in our lifetimes. Personally, I remember being raised to hate and fear Canadians and Brits. In my household — like yours, no doubt — every Canadian was a “poutine-head” and every Briton was “Johnny Monocle.”

Oh, but times sure change — it felt like only yesterday I was a child listening to my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather’s War of 1812 stories. Whenever he got to the Battle of Baltimore I would no longer be able to contain my excitement. I would jump up and swear to avenge my dear pappy’s war injuries. If necessary, I would fight every Canadian and Brit I could find. Ha! But, well, that was then. As Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in his address at Fort McHenry, “Much … has changed in 200 years.”

I can’t help but think of the equally historic Oslo Accords, signed by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat in 1993. And I only hope that this tenuous but good-faith “Fort McHenry Declaration of Peace” will take root better than that ill-fated peace agreement.