Annual ceremony held to commemorate the Prison Ship Martyrs

August 26, 2014 Jaime DeJesus
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Remembering the fallen during Battle of Brooklyn week. New Yorkers made their way to Fort Greene Park on Saturday, August 23, to the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument to honor the 11,500 American prisoners of war who died in captivity aboard 16 British prison ships during the American Revolutionary War.

“The day is to raise consciousness and civic awareness so that the younger generation knows how important this monument is and that it’s one of the largest burial sites in America. Not many people are aware of it,” said Ted General, the second vice president of the Society of Old Brooklynites, of the 149-foot monument. A burial chamber located 40 feet below has the remains of the revolutionary soldiers.

The keynote speaker was Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries, who discussed his attempts to pass legislation that would make the Stanford White-designed memorial a national monument. “He talked about the significance of the monument and how he was familiar with it growing up,” General said.

Borough President Eric Adams was also in attendance and talked about his days as an officer when he patrolled Fort Greene and the significance of the historic monument. Opera singers from the Martha Cardona Theater performed. The opening remarks were made by Ron Schweiger, official Brooklyn borough historian.

A piping ceremony was held for the soldiers who died on board the prison ships and were subsequently buried beneath the monument. A boson’s call was also made to commemorate the fallen sailors.

“It is to keep the legacy alive and make sure the martyrs are not forgotten,” General added. “Basically, we lost the Battle of Brooklyn but went on to win the war. These guys gave their lives in support of a new nation.”

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