NEW ORLEANS, LA (CBS) - Events have been taking place across North America since last year to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812; the last conflict in which the U.S. defended herself against British rule.
It's the war that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner" and there's something else unique about it: both sides still think they won!
Every year on Louisiana's Chalmette Battlefield, re-enactors commemorate the 'Battle of New Orleans'. Many view the American victory here as the end to the War of 1812, a sprawling, three year conflict that once and for all freed the U.S. from the shackles of Great Britain.
The British had been interfering with American trade months before this battle, the British burned down the White House. But the stars and stripes would survive the perilous fight at the Battle of Baltimore, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write the 'Star Spangled Banner'.
So the British are the ones that started this all, right? Vincent Vaise, Chief of Interpretation for Fort McHenry National Monument says, "We saw ourselves as that. Now, some American senators were also lookin' for an excuse to invade Canada. So they're saying well the British seizing American ships, sailors. That gives us a right to declare war. And let's go to war and take the British colonies of Canada."
We invaded Canada? Our oh-so-nice neighbor to the north? "How come I didn't learn that in school? I always was taught the War of 1812 was about the Star Spangled and about Americans defending ourselves against the British," Vaise says, "I think one reason we don't really study much about the War of 1812 is we did not succeed in taking Canada so no one wants to hear about that. Its sandwiched in between the Revolutionary War which you have these big figures like George Washington and then the civil war which is a larger thing."
Historians often refer to the War of 1812 as America's "Forgotten War". But just across the border in Ontairo, Canada? Well they've got a different take.
Thousands are gathered to watch a re-enactment of the Battle of Queenston Heights which as everyone knows was one of the most important battles in the war of 1812. Really it was! Just ask any Canadian. Richard Merritt, author of On Common Ground says kids in Canada are taught, "That it was a Canadian victory. That we fought off the American invaders. Ultimately, it resulted in saving Canada and creating our own Canadian identity."
So how much of this was about grabbing Canada? Vaise says, "It depends who you ask. The perception is we won the War of 1812 hands down. However, if you go to Canada, the perception is the Canadians and the British beat the Americans in the War of 1812."
In 1812 the population of Canada included many Americans who'd left after the revolution. In fact one of Canada's national heroes is American-born Laura Secord. She trekked through the night to warn the British about the imminent American invasion. Yes, she is Canada's 'Paula Revere'.
In the end, both countries say they won the war, a kind of win-win.