Generally Speaking: Brooklyn Society to salute fallen prison ship martyrs

August 22, 2014 Theodore W. General
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This coming Saturday morning at 10 a.m., members of the Society of Old Brooklynites, elected officials, historians and community leaders will muster at the base of the 149-foot Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, on the hilltop in Fort Greene Park for the society’s 106th annual memorial tribute.

In a chamber below the towering monument are the actual remains of 11,500 patriots from the American Revolutionary War, making this site arguably the nation’s largest burial ground for America’s first freedom fighters and POWs.

The huge Stanford White-designed Doric column was the tallest free-standing pillar in the world when it was dedicated in 1908 by President William Howard Taft. This event is being held in conjunction with the 238th anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn.

Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries will be the keynote speaker and is sure to discuss his bill, recently passed by the House, directing the Secretary of the Interior to study the feasibility of designating this monument and the burial chamber a unit of the National Park System.

Presiding at the ceremonies will be Brooklyn Historian Ron Schweiger, also the president of the Society of Old Brooklynites. The program will be emceed by business executive Michael Spinner, also the society’s first veep.

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We have been attending, photographing and writing about the annual Maryland 400 commemorative ceremonies for more than two decades.  This time, we were invited to be an actual participant as one of the readers of the 400 Roll Call of Honor.

Kim Maier, the executive director of the Old Stone House, had us read the rank and names of members of the Fifth and Sixth Independent Companies.  The first ceremony took place in the rear yard of the Michael A. Rawley American Legion Post, Eighth Street and Third Avenue. this past Saturday afternoon.

The event was co-sponsored by the Brooklyn Irish American Parade Committee. Deacon John Flannery from Holy Family-St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, delivered the invocation. The wreath laying at the post memorial flagpole was presented by Kathleen McDonagh and former Kings County American Legion commander Pete DeAngelis.

The rifle salute was fired by two members of the Sons of the American Legion from the Rawley Post. After a brief march to the Old Stone House at Third Street and Fifth Avenue, a second wreath-laying was done in front of the Stone House.

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Radio legend John Gambling, who hosted a radio program on WOR, then WABC — where he first did a Friday morning show with Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and then with  Mayor Mike Bloomberg — is now broadcasting on 970AM the Answer.  The other morning, he commented about New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton – of whom he said he was a big fan  — nonetheless predicting he would not serve a full term under Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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