On Saturday, August 26, the Society of Old Brooklynites held its 109th annual Prison Ship Martyrs Remembrance Commemoration.
Taking place on a hilltop in Fort Greene Park, DeKalb Avenue and Washington Park, during a week marking the 241st anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn, the event paid tribute to the 11,500 patriots imprisoned in British ships in Wallabout Bay during the Revolutionary War whose remains are interred in the crypt 40 feet below a 149-foot-tall monument erected in their memory.
The First Vice President of the Society of Old Brooklynites Ted General described the day as another success. “I thought the ceremony went exceedingly well,” he said. “I’m enthusiastic about promoting a ceremony every year so that people don’t forget and so young people become involved in it and know what’s going on. It’s very significant.”
General, who has been an integral part of organizing the event, continues to enjoy hosting it. “I’m very happy to be affiliated with this because it’s almost like a forgotten monument,” he said. “Not a lot of people know it exists in Fort Greene Park. What’s unusual about it is there are very few parks in the city that have gravesites within them.”
He added that the 11,500 people buried there make it the largest Revolutionary War burial site in the U.S.
The event’s keynote speaker was George Broadhead, the president of the Society of the Old Brooklynites. “He’s also a Marine Corps combat veteran,” said General. “He received a Silver Star, which is the third highest decoration you can get.”
The tribute included a wreath-laying ceremony during which a tenor sang the national anthem and the Navy hymn.
“That was very moving,” General said. “We play taps and eight slow bells were struck in memory of those buried under the monument.”
The Daughters of the American Revolution was represented. In addition, there were reenactors in Revolutionary War garb. The program was emceed by Michael Spinner.