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Colonial Wars society set for Bermuda trip

For the first time in more than a century, a prestigious American society has chosen to host its annual meeting in Bermuda.

The General Society of Colonial Wars will bring approximately 200 members to Bermuda in May and will induct Mayor of Hamilton Graeme Outerbridge into their fold.

“It's going to be a great trip,” Charles A Poekel Jr, the chairman of the Bermuda Planning Committee and Lieutenant Governor of the Colonial Wars of New Jersey, said, “People are coming from all over the country.”

It was decided to host the meeting outside United States for the first time because members of the society — one of the oldest hereditary societies with membership based on the military service of an ancestor — are interested in exploring the historical relationship between Bermuda and the United States, Mr Poekel explained.

“The famous incident is of course the Gunpowder Plot,” Mr Poekel said, but he added that the group's interest also predates this event and concerns the maritime connection in particular.

“Some of our members call Bermuda the 14th colony,” he added.

Mr Poekel, who spent the weekend in Bermuda to finalise event preparations, said the majority of the members will be arriving on the Norwegian Breakaway on May 6, and will be treated to a three-day whirlwind tour of the Island.

This will begin with a reception at City Hall, where the Society will be welcomed by town crier Ed Christopher and Johnny Barnes.

“The one thing that makes Bermuda the wonderful place that it is, is the people, and Johnny Barnes epitomises this,” Mr Poekel said, adding that there will also be a showing of the video Mr Happy Man, which features Johnny Barnes.

Mayor Outerbridge “may very well be the first Bermudian” to be inducted into the society, Mr Poekel said. Mr Poekel noted that Mayor Outerbridge, whose family can be traced back generations in Bermuda, was well qualified to become a member of the society. There will also be a luncheon and speech by Premier Michael Dunkley at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and a reception at Government House, hosted by Governor George Fergusson.

A seedling grown in Bermuda from seeds taken from a tree at Mount Vernon — the plantation home of George Washington in Virginia — will be planted during a ceremony in Queen Elizabeth Park, formerly known as Par-la-Ville Park.

“The tree is a Redbud,” Mr Poekel said. “It will be a gift from the General Society to the people of Bermuda.”

The members will also tour St George's and meet with Mayor Garth Rothwell before attending a white tie/black tie dinner dance at Fourways Inn. The Society's annual tennis tournament, which has been hosted for 25 years, will be held at Coral Beach & Tennis Club and Mr Poekel said that Mayor Outerbridge had already signed up.

A golf tournament and reception will also be hosted at Port Royal Golf Club, before the members depart on May 10.

Associate Professor of History at the University of Rochester, Michael Jarvis, who launched the Smiths Island Archaeology Project in 2010, will be accompanying the group on the Norwegian Breakaway to lecture on Bermuda.

“It should be a fabulous trip and a meaningful trip,” Mr Poekel said. “We've been very impressed with the Government, and the fact that Mayor Outerbridge will be joining the Society.”

The Society of Colonial Wars was founded in 1892 in New York for the purpose of furthering the interest in, and study of, America's Colonial history for the period between the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia on May 13, 1607 and the battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775. The General Society of Colonial Wars was founded in 1893.

Planning ahead: Mayor of St George's Garth Rothwell and Charles A Poekel Jr, chairman of the Bermuda Planning Committee

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Published March 23, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 23, 2015 at 1:43 am)

Colonial Wars society set for Bermuda trip

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