Memo to Malloy's advisers: The Revolution did not include casinos

I thought Gov. Malloy was a history buff.

You might not know it, though, if you watched any of the commercials in the state's new tourism branding campaign, which is called, inappropriately, it turns out, Still Revolutionary.

After all, the two-year, $27 million campaign aimed at luring tourists to the state is distinctly built around the notion that Connecticut played a role in the American Revolution.

But Groton's Fort Griswold, considered one of the most remarkably intact Revolutionary War forts in the country, is not included among the many tourist destinations specifically promoted in the expensively produced television advertisements for Still Revolutionary.

The Still Revolutionary ads show the Goodspeed Opera House, the Essex Steam Train, a beluga whale at Mystic Aquarium, scenes of a 19th-century waterfront recreated at Mystic Seaport, even some very modern casino gambling.

But there are no images at all in the Still Revolutionary campaign from Fort Griswold, the site of the only engagement of the Revolution to take place in Connecticut.

Worse, the many listings of attractions suggested to tourists on the Still Revolutionary website,, barely mention the Revolutionary War state park at Fort Griswold.

Even more incredible, a timeline on the website for "Revolutionary Events in Connecticut History" - beginning with the adoption of the constitution in 1639 and ending with the development of a new jet engine at Pratt and Whitney, in 2011 - makes no mention at all of the Groton battle that claimed the lives of 88 brave Connecticut revolutionaries.

How could a Still Revolutionary website, one that includes all kinds of history-based attractions in the state, nearly ignore the specific history of the American Revolution?

You might ask the governor that if you see him anytime soon.

This is what you get for $27 million?

It was Old Lyme writer Richard White, author of "Jordan Freeman Was My Friend," a historical novel set in part during the attack at Fort Griswold by Benedict Arnold's troops, who first alerted me to fact that the state's history-centered tourism campaign turns its back on such a big part of the state history it is named for.

White wrote to make note of the governor ignoring the state's only Revolutionary War battlefield in promoting the new Still Revolutionary campaign.

Indeed, a press release issued at the time of the campaign's launch earlier this year specifically quoted the governor as saying the state should be more mindful of its history.

"Still Revolutionary speaks to Connecticut's deep roots in the founding of this country and reminds us that we still have that independent, revolutionary spirit," Malloy says in the press release. "We are proud of our history even as we look forward to our future. It's time we did a better job of telling that story."

I guess we have to spend more than $27 million to better tell the story, to actually include any specifics of the state's role in the founding of the country.

The state ignoring the remarkable Fort Griswold is nothing new.

I visited on Monday, one of two days of the week the place is not officially open, and noticed the forlorn look of the park, including a big snarl of weeds growing over the plaque marking the place where American Col. William Ledyard was stabbed to death by his own sword, after officially surrendering to the British.

I also spoke this week with some of the volunteers with The Friends of Fort Griswold who said that, indeed, the state is quite frugal when it comes to caring for Fort Griswold.

The group is planning its annual commemoration of the Sept. 6, 1781, Battle of Groton Heights Sunday, with a wreath-laying and libation ceremony.

It begins at 6:45 p.m. at the park and is free.

Maybe the governor should dispatch some of the well-paid architects of the expensive Still Revolutionary campaign to help them finally better tell the story.

This is the opinion of David Collins


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