The other George's war 

Every Independence Day, Americans converge at backyard barbecues and neighborhood fireworks displays to pay homage to the good old red, white and blue. In celebration of the birth of our nation, we do things like wave flags, march in parades and drink beer. But the holiday often seems to come and go without much reflection. Which raises the question: Do we have an appreciation for how we got here?

The War That Made America,a new PBS documentary that examines the French and Indian War, adds some perspective. The four-hour docudrama traces the impact of this often ignored and misunderstood period in American history. Once referred to by Winston Churchill as “the first worldwide war,” almost 250 years ago the conflict set in motion the forces leading to the American Revolution.

Narrated by actor Graham Greene, an Academy Award nominee for Dances With Wolves, and an Oneida Indian whose ancestors fought in the French and Indian War, The War That Made America gives special recognition to the Native Americans whose struggle for power and cultural preservation are key to American history. It also chronicles what many historians consider the less-than-heroic beginning of George Washington’s military career.

This week, the Detroit Historical Museum teams up with Detroit’s PBS affiliate, WTVS Channel 56 for a free pre-screening of The War. The doc is scheduled to be broadcast on Channel 56 next month, but can be seen in a three-hour version at the museum. It should tie in beautifully to the Frontiers to Factories exhibit that is currently on display.

John O’Donnell, publicity director for Detroit Public Television, says that the station is excited to bring this film to viewers. O’Donnell says, “There are a lot of historians who think that this conflict has a lot more to do with the shaping of America than the Revolutionary War.

“It even dovetails into the history of Detroit. I think folks will learn a lot”


2 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 29, at the Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-1805. Due to limited seating, registration is required.

Eve Doster is Metro Times listings editor. Send comments to

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