A group of local volunteers and county officials recently began preparing for Loudoun's 250th anniversary and the state's 400th in 2007, and their goal is not to re-write history.
With plans to reenact army marches and verify the authenticity of purported Indian burial mounds around Leesburg, the group hopes to raise the profile of the French and Indian War and its ties to the county, even though none of its battles were fought in Loudoun.
"There's a tendency in Virginia to talk about the Civil War forever and ever [in classrooms]," said Bill Brazier, the social studies curriculum supervisor for Loudoun County public schools.
The lesser-known war pitted the French against the British from 1754 to 1763 over their competing claims to territory west of the Appalachian Mountains It enters public school curriculum only in the context of causes of the American Revolution, Brazier said.
The taxes imposed by the British on the American colonies to help pay for their warring against the French, not only in America but in Europe and India, helped spark the revolution, and many of the Colonial soldiers who fought for the British in the French and Indian War eventually used their training to lead American troops against the British.
"In terms of people, many of the leaders of the revolution got their military experience in the French and Indian War," said Charles Hall, president of the Fort Edwards Foundation in West Virginia, which manages one of George Washington's frontier forts.
The volunteer group, the Virginia 2007 Community Program Steering Committee, is beginning to plan public education programs through movies and a lecture series aimed at the growing number of newcomers to the county, said Douglas Foard, the committee's chairman.
Committee representatives from Shenandoah University in Winchester say the school is organizing its second academic conference on the war. The university is also considering reenacting British Gen. Edward Braddock's unsuccessful march in 1955 from Alexandria -- through Leesburg and Winchester -- to capture Fort Duquesne, a French stronghold in Pittsburgh.
The nearest battles were fought in Frederick County, said Delaplane resident Norman Baker, a historian with the French and Indian War Foundation, a volunteer historical preservation society in Frederick County.
On Wednesday, the steering committee broadened its focus from planning Leesburg events to countywide events and agreed to work with members of the Loudoun Board of Supervisors. It also agreed to extend the celebration through 2008 to mark the 250th anniversary of Leesburg.
The group has not decided whether to seek county funding or to rely on private donations. "So far, this is an all-volunteer effort," Foard said. "We haven't spent any money at all, except maybe for cookies."
The steering committee also hopes to create a special prize for county public high school students who participate in the annual social studies fair and research local history.