Generally Speaking: Society to remember America’s first POWs

August 26, 2016 Theodore W. General
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The Society of Old Brooklynites will be holding its 108th memorial tribute to the Prison Ship Martyrs, and commemoration of the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn (aka the Battle of Long Island) on Saturday, August 27 at 10 a.m., on the top of the hill in Fort Greene Park. Entombed in a crypt 40 feet under the 149-foot tall Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument are the actual remains of approximately 11,500 patriots from the American Revolutionary War.

At the base of this towering monument on these hallowed grounds, society President George Broadhead, a U.S. Marine Corps decorated Korean War veteran, will preside over a program to include a narrative about the plight of America’s first POWs who perished under horrific and sub-human conditions in dungeon-like, decrepit British prison ships anchored in Brooklyn’s Wallabout Bay. Norman Coben, a historian on the American Revolution and a well-known re-enactor, will be the keynote speaker.

The event will include a maritime piping ceremony, the national anthem, Taps, eight mournful slow bells, interpretive dance and wreath laying. Other participants will include a Marine Corps Color Guard, the ceremonial honor guard and pipes and drums from the New York City Fire Department, plus officials from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Society Vice President Michael Spinner will emcee the program.

According to historical accounts, more sailors, soldiers and citizens died in British jails and on prison ships than in all the battles of the American Revolution. Today, many are unaware this sacred site in Fort Greene Park is the largest American Revolutionary burial ground in the nation.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

This past Saturday, August 20, the Maryland 400 were remembered at the memorial flagpole at the Michael Rawley Post of the American Legion, on Eighth Street just off Third Avenue. The event was conducted jointly with members of the Brooklyn Irish-American Parade Committee headed by Kathleen McDonagh.

The national anthems of America and Ireland were sung by John Houlihan. While a wreath was laid at the flagpole, Bagpiper Bob O’Hare played Taps. At the conclusion of the program, the participants marched in formation up to the Old Stone House in Washington Park, Fifth Street and Fifth Avenue.

At the Stone House, Kim Maier, the executive director and coordinator for Brooklyn Battle Week, held a brief program which included the reading of the names of the Marylanders by designated readers, remarks by Nancy Rosenberg, board chair for the Old Stone House, a wreath laying, and a rifle salute by the MacFadden Post of the American Legion.

Also present for the event was the Commodore John Barry Club with President Mary Nolan and Brian Kassenbrock, and members of the Sons of the American Revolution and DAR from Maryland.

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