Commemorating history the Brooklyn way.
Each year, the borough celebrates its Revolutionary War past during Battle of Brooklyn Week, an annual observation that culminates, in 2017, during the weekend of August 25 through 27, and includes popular activities and events to mark the 241st anniversary of the largest battle of the Revolutionary War.
“This is really our annual deep focus on the battle and the fact that so many individuals came to New York at the outset of the American Revolution to fight for an ideal,” said Executive Director of the Old Stone House Kim Maier, who discussed the significance of the commemoration during current times. “We think it’s a big conversation about our history as a borough. We’re looking at history in a much broader way. If we don’t remember where we came from, we are not learning the kinds of lessons that are going to be helpful to us in the future.”
“The Battle of Brooklyn is a tremendously important historical event,” said Green-Wood Cemetery’s historian Jeff Richman. “And it’s a battle which came close to almost ending the entire American Revolution right in Brooklyn. People that live in Brooklyn or visit it, rarely know they are on this Revolutionary War battlefield. Green-Wood Cemetery was part of that battlefield and a key part of it. In fact, the greatest triumph for the American troops occurred on what is now called Battle Hill in Green-Wood Cemetery and the first shots of the battle were fired on another section of Green-Wood.”
On Friday, August 25, the annual Battle of Brooklyn walking tour starts at 6 p.m. the Grand Army Plaza, goes through Prospect Park, and heading over to the Old Stone House where it concludes in the gallery. Advance tickets, $12 ($10 for Old Stone House members) are recommended.
“It’s a great way to get a feel for the landscape of the battle,” said Maier.
The next evening, Saturday, August 26 at 7 p.m., Green-Wood will host Tales, Tunes, and Tastings which, said Maier, “Will feature contra and square dancing, and rum and cider tasting.” In addition, she said, “There will be reenactors camping out at Green-Wood overnight and storytelling and campfires will go on from 7-9 p.m.” Tickets, $20, are available in advance through theoldstonehouse.org.
It’s a first for Green-Wood, said Richman, who noted, “There will be various demonstrations relating to the Revolutionary War era.”
Also on Saturday, at 10 a.m., there will be the annual Prison Ships Martyrs Memorial Ceremony, coordinated by the Society of Old Brooklynites, the American Merchant Marine Association and the Navy Armed Guard. It will be held at the Prison Ships Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park. For information, call 718-768-3195.
On Sunday, August 27, the annual Battle of Brooklyn Reenactment Commemoration will take place at Green-Wood Cemetery.
At 10 a.m., there will be a trolley tour across Green-Wood, led by Richman and author Barnet Schecter. Call 718-768-7300 for reservations (required).
Then, beginning at 11 a.m., there will be, “A tactical demonstration on the meadow at Green-Wood with horses and cannons and swords and muskets and reenactors and cooking demonstrations,” Maier enthused.
Following that, at 12:30 p.m., there will be a parade led by the Merchant Marine Academy Band to the top of Battle Hill, where a memorial ceremony will begin at 1 p.m.
The commemoration is an event loved by all. “You get a feel for the living history,” said Maier. “The reenactors that participate in the program really enjoy what they do and they’re generous with their information and want to engage in communicating what life was like in the 18th century, for men and women, the roles that everyone had at the time.”
“This is a great family event,” added Richman. “We have children of all ages who come to this, people interested in history or photographs or spectacle and interesting in learning what happened in Brooklyn 241 years ago.”
For more information on events, times and prices, visit www.theoldstonehouse.org and www.green-wood.com.