TICONDEROGA-John F. Ross has won the inaugural Fort Ticonderoga Prize for Contributions to American History.
The award was presented at the 17th annual Ti Ball at the Union League Club in New York on March 4.
"In a world of accelerating change," Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga's executive director, explained to 155 guests, "we need increasingly to understand and appreciate the principles and experiences that led to the founding of our nation. We established this new award to recognize national leadership in the history profession."
After a national search, the trustees voted unanimously to award the Ticonderoga Prize for Contributions to American History to Ross, who has made broad contributions to 18th Century military scholarship with his book "War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America's First Frontier."
"John F. Ross is a scholar who understands the importance of bringing history, observation and experience together when seeking to understand the past," said Hill.
Ross observed that this day 150 years ago Abraham Lincoln gave his first inaugural address, in which he appealed to a disintegrating Union not to split because of the "mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land." As everything seemed to dissolve around him, Ross said, Lincoln drew on our shared heritage to keep the nation together. History mattered then - and matters no less now, he said.
"When I started a book on the 18th century warrior hero Robert Rogers, I realized what I had been looking for all my life was lying right under my nose - narrating and interpreting the rich themes of our past," Ross said. "Robert Rogers was the greatest of ranger leaders and creator of special operations. Modern rangers still must master his amazingly concentrated 28 rules of woods fighting. His ground zero was Fort Ticonderoga, key to the geo-strategy of North America. Today our men slip off to Afghanistan and many unnamed places with Robert Rogers by their side."
In his research for "War on the Run" Ross walked and kayaked many parts of Rogers' tracks, much of them around Fort Ticonderoga.
Ross is the executive editor of American Heritage and Invention & Technology magazines. Previously he was a senior editor for Smithsonian magazine. He is the author of "The Polar Bear Strategy: Reflections on Risk in Modern Life." He has published more than 200 articles and spoken at the Explorers Club of New York, the Smithsonian Institution, NASA's Ames Research Center and BMW's Herbert Quandt Foundation.
Fort Ticonderoga offers programs, tours, demonstrations and exhibits each day from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 20 - Oct. 20. The 2011 season will feature "The Art of War: Ticonderoga as Experienced through the Eyes of America's Great Artists." An exhibit highlighting the fort's art collection. A full schedule and information on events can be found at www.FortTiconderoga.org.