‘After the End’ gives visitors an opportunity to reflect on grief
The year 1776 was a tumultuous one for Brooklyn. As the city’s residents celebrated the issuing of the Declaration of Independence in July, British forces were preparing to transform their homes into the battlefield of the Revolutionary War’s largest engagement yet.
Following another tumultuous year in 2020, Green-Wood Cemetery will host an event this Saturday commemorating the Battle of Brooklyn. The cemetery tradition — which was cancelled last year due to the pandemic — honors those who defended the early American Republic on Green-Wood’s current grounds in August of 1776.
Organized in collaboration with Park Slope’s Old Stone House, Green-Wood’s Battle of Brooklyn event is a family-friendly afternoon featuring reenactors, demonstrations, music, and storytelling. Muskets, cannons, and horses will be present throughout the cemetery, as well as actors representing the American Continental Army and the British redcoats.
For the staff at Green-Wood, the Battle of Brooklyn’s anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the cemetery’s relationship with the borough’s history.
“Green-Wood is proud to again remember the crucial role Brooklyn played in the birth of our nation,” said Green-Wood president Richard Moylan. “We come together to honor the American heroes who fought so valiantly 245 years ago.”
Green-Wood’s resident historian, Jeff Richman, echoed a similar sentiment.
“History is both an opportunity to remember those who have come before us and learn from their lives, so that we can better live ours,” Richman said in an interview. “When we reflect on the freedoms we enjoy today in this country, we must remember that they are only possible because General George Washington, despite the defeat he suffered on this ground, was just barely able to save his army and continue the fight for independence for seven long years, until independence was won.”
The Battle of Brooklyn was a pivotal point in the American Revolution. Although it was technically a defeat for the Americans, a force of 2,000 Continental troops bravely held back over 30,000 British soldiers, giving General Washington and his army an opportunity to retreat to Manhattan and fight another day. It was the largest battle in the entirety of the war.
Greenwood’s Battle of Brooklyn event is free and open to all, yet the cemetery requires that visitors secure tickets in advance to comply with COVID-19 capacity protocols.
Visitors can select a time slot to visit the event at green-wood.com/calendar. Masks are strongly recommended regardless of vaccination status.
Green-Wood Cemetery is set to receive almost $250,000 in new funding to expand its educational programming.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services, a government agency dedicated to supporting educational institutions throughout the U.S., has awarded a $247,000 grant to The Green-Wood Historic Fund to develop environmental education programming for New York City middle school students with a focus on South Brooklyn.
The three-year grant will allow Green-Wood to greatly expand its existing school programs, which now focus on history, art, and architecture, by offering new courses specifically about the environment, sustainability, and the climate.
“Green-Wood’s education department exists to share all of the unique and special features of the cemetery with students and teachers,” said Rachel Walman, director of Education. “While nature might not be what you first think of when you think of a cemetery, Green-Wood is actually as impressive a green space as it is a burying ground.”
In addition to curricula focused on the environment, Green-Wood will also use the money to provide professional development opportunities for students interested in a career in sustainability science or other related fields.
“Green-Wood is an amazing living laboratory where children can study climate change in creative ways,” said Walman. “This funding will allow us to hire a program manager with content expertise who will plan three, different thematic programs complete with pre- and post-visit materials and pilot the programs with two local schools at no cost to them.”
So far, The Institute of Museum and Library Services has distributed nearly $30 million in funding to museums and educational institutions throughout the country.
“Our current round of grants for the museum world reflects the important work of our nation’s cultural institutions during the pandemic, and the deep thinking about the future of our culture in a post-pandemic world,” said musuem director Crosby Kemper.
The new curricula Green-Wood plans on creating with the funding will build on an already robust offering of educational programming.
This past June, Green-Wood celebrated the third graduation of its Bridge to Crafts Careers program, a unique masonry and historic preservation program. Throughout the ten-week course, students helped to renovate and restore a century-old monument in the heart of the cemetery.
Green-Wood also hosts a number of events open to the public. On Saturday, August 28, the cemetery will commemorate the Battle of Brooklyn, a famous Revolutionary War conflict fought in 1776 on the present day grounds of Green-Wood. The event will feature reenactors, demonstrations, music, and storytelling.