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War of 1812 license plates for D.C., too?

"The taking of the city of Washington in America"

The state of Maryland, to some consternation, has chosen to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 in license-plate form -- an issue I explore in some depth in my not-a-column this week. A similar token may soon be available to District residents.

Like Maryland, the District also has a War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. But while Maryland's commission is well funded and operates with the imprimatur of Gov. Martin O'Malley, the D.C. commission is a grassroots effort.

And like its Maryland counterpart, D.C.'s bicentennial commission is looking to use license plates to commemorate the "forgotten war." Unlike Marylanders, the people of the District can have some input on the process. The D.C. commission is sponsoring an art contest to come up with a suitable design. The winner gets $200.

What historical material do aspiring plate designers have to work with? Less than a month before the unsuccessful siege of Baltimore in September 1812, you'll recall, redcoats torched the White House, Capitol and other buildings. It was pretty much a rout. Good luck, folks.

Acqunetta Anderson, the commission's chair, says the final design will have to be approved by the District Department of Motor Vehicles. While the Maryland plate is now standard-issue, the D.C. plate would an optional plate available at extra charge, Anderson says.

Illustration: Engraving of "The taking of the city of Washington in America," Library of Congress

By Mike DeBonis  |  June 17, 2010; 5:15 PM ET
Categories:  The District  
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