From 2012 to 2015, the United States Navy and its partners will commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of our National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. It is remarkable that 200 years ago, the first declared war in our nation's history was fought against the nation (now two nations) which have become our closest allies. Many things change in 200 years, but what doesn't change is the importance of sea power in the affairs of maritime nations.
Since its birth in 1776, the United States has always been a maritime nation, which means that unobstructed access to and free use of the world's oceans are essential to our national welfare and prosperity. That's what the United States went to war in 1812 to defend, and that is what the United States Navy has been protecting ever since.
War of 1812 Wikipedia page