AAR Prison Ship Martyrs Monument 8/23/08
The Society of Old Brooklynites invited the Gathering of Eagles to take part in their memorial ceremony for the Prison Ship Martyrs today at the monument in Fort Greene Park. This monument stands over the crypt which contains the remains of over 10,000 of America’s first POW/MIAs. These men and some women refused to pledge allegiance to the King of England to end their confinement on the worm-eaten, disease-ridden hulks anchored in Wallabout Bay. Their lifeless bodies were removed from the ships each morning and rowed ashore where they were buried in shallow mass graves. For years afterwards bones were recovered sticking out of the ground and taken to a location on private property where they were interred. Finally, they were moved to a crypt that had been constructed for their final resting place in Fort Greene on a hill overlooking the bay. In 1908 the Society of Old Brooklynites erected the monument which stands high above.
Forgotten by all but a few, the Prison Ship Martyrs monument sits in a state of disrepair on the eve of its centennial in November. The area is closed off by chain link fence and the grounds within are overgrown with weeds. The flag pole flies an American and a POW/MIA flag, but is sorely in need of paint. The scheduled repairs have been plagued by cost overruns and the electrical contractor has been fired by New York City which leaves the project in limbo.
The memorial ceremony was held outside the Fort Greene Park Visitor’s Center adjacent to the monument. The weather was beautiful, the speakers inspiring and the small crowd committed to seeing the monument restored in time for the centennial.