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Battle of Brooklyn Week brings out the big guns

This month, Brooklynites across the borough will raise their hats and flags in honor of Battle of Brooklyn Week, celebrating the 237th anniversary of the American Revolution right here in Brooklyn.

The week-long event will go from August 18 to August 25 and span the lengths of land where the American Revolution left its mark in Brooklyn. Historic locations include the Old Stone House, Green-Wood Cemetery, Washington Park and more.

“It’s a great event for families and for people who are interested in history,” said Maggie Weder, director of education at the Old Stone House. “This year we do have a wide variety of activities with this culminating community.”

Vice President of the Society of Old Brooklynites Ted General has been an active participant in Brooklyn’s Battle Week commemoration for more than 15 years and attributes the event’s importance to the borough’s lack of mention in American Revolution education.

“It’s usually missing in a lot of present day history books for the children that are in school studying the American Revolution,” said General, “and that’s mostly because it was a losing battle for us, but our history there is definitely worth noting.”

General spoke proudly of the Prison Ship Martyrs Memorial Ceremony, taking place Saturday, August 24 at 10 a.m. Coordinated by the Society of Old Brooklynites, the American Merchant Marine Association and the Navy Armed Guard, the ceremony is one of the week’s signature events, held each year since 1908.

“It’s held at the top of the hill at Fort Greene Park, at the 149-foot tall towering Prison Ship Martyrs Monument,” said General, “and under this monument are the remains of 11,500 patriots of the Revolutionary War.”

Following the honoring of those lost in battle will be an interpretive dance by Young Dancers In Repertory, a dance group based out of Sunset Park under the direction of Craig Gabrian.

General also mentioned that the ceremony will be marked by keynote speaker Ron Schweiger, Brooklyn borough historian and the new president of the Society of Old Brooklynites.

With old traditions come new ones as Brooklyn honors their impact in the war.

“The biggest difference this year is that we’re doing a food fest at the Revolutionary Fare,” said Weder.

On August 24, with a $12 dollar ticket, history buffs can indulge in a Colonial Period cocktail tasting from David Arnold, Colonial dishes served by top Brooklyn restaurants and, of course, live music and more.

“We’re thinking that’s going to be really fun,” said Weder, adding that re-enactors will be donning colonial drapes as event-goers enjoy traditional food and even a pie making contest.

Another event dear to General’s heart is the week’s opening ceremony, the “Maryland 400 Commemoration,” on Sunday, August 18 at 2 p.m. at the Michael A. Rawley Jr. American Legion Post #1636, 193 Ninth Street, in which a memorial march will be led by a traditional bagpiper from the post to the Old Stone House battle site.

With a variety of events from morning ‘till night, the Battle of Brooklyn Week is fit for families and history buffs of all ages. Enjoy exciting exhibitions and powerful performances as well as a Cook Like a Soldier showcase at the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House in Ridgewood, where historians will re-enact colonial cooking over an open flame on August 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The week culminates, as it does each year, with a commemoration at Green-Wood Cemetery, at Fifth Avenue and 25th Street, which kicks off with a two-hour trolley tour of the burying ground that begins at 10 a.m. (reservations required). Highlights of the day are the Living History programming that runs from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the re-enactment inside the main gate that begins at 12:30 p.m., and the parade to the top of Battle Hill at 1:30 p.m., which concludes with a memorial ceremony at the hill’s top led by the Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley and includes the reading of the names of the Maryland 400.

No matter the exciting event, the importance of the commemorative week is undeniable.

“It’s very important to keep alive for current and future generations the sacrifice the early patriots from the American Revolution made during the Battle of Brooklyn ,” said General.

For a full list of events, visit http://theoldstonehouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Battle-Week-Flyer-2013-Final.pdf.

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