Brooklyn puts it in writing, ‘We support Fort Hamilton troops’
Leaders sign covenant pledging assistance
The U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton was established in 1825 and has honored many military traditions over the past 189 years. But on Tuesday morning, army brass, Bay Ridge elected officials and civic leaders took part in a relatively new event that the participants said they hope will become a time honored tradition at the military base.
In a ceremony that took place on the fort’s bluff over looking the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Bay Ridge, Col. Joseph Davidson and a group of military officials, lawmakers and civilians signed the Army Community Covenant, a document in which the signers pledge to support the army installation and its surrounding civilian community in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Covenant signing ceremonies take place at military installations all over the country, but leaders said the Fort Hamilton event is special because the fort’s unique status as the only active military base in New York City.
In addition to honoring military-community ties, the covenant is also designed to foster positive partnerships with the community surrounding the fort so that the soldiers and their families can enjoy a good quality of life during their time at the military base, according to the army.
“We, the community, recognize the commitment soldiers and their families are making every day. The strength of soldiers comes from the strength of their families. The strength of families is supported by the strength of the community,” the covenant reads in part.
The community covenant program began in 2008 at the behest of the secretary of the army.
The document is important, according to Bill Guarinello, president of the Fort Hamilton Citizens Action Committee, because “it is signaling the tremendous partnership we have here.” The committee was formed 12 years ago to advocate on behalf of the fort, which was faced with the threat of closure by the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC). The fort was eventually spared by BRAC, but the committee, made up entirely of volunteers from Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, continued its work promoting the military base. The committee is now a not-for-profit group.
All of the signers sat at two long tables set up on the bluff. After brief remarks by officials, it was time to sign the covenant, which was printed on two large cardboard sheets.
Davison and Guarinello both signed the covenant, as did Brig. Gen. Kent Savre, commander of the North Atlantic Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is stationed at Fort Hamilton. The elected officials signing the covenant were: U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, state Sen. Marty Golden, Assemblymembers Peter Abbate, Alec Brook-Krasny and Nicole Malliotakis, and Councilmember Vincent Gentile, all of whom represent the fort or part of the community surrounding the fort.
“Today is an important day,” Davidson said. The covenant acknowledges “the tremendous military-civilian partnership we have in place,” he said.
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