Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer today announced a measure they pushed for, to require the Secretary of the Interior to study making the Prison Ship Martyrs monument a unit of the National Park Service, has passed Congress in the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation passed the House on December 4, 2014, passed the Senate on December 12, 2014 and now heads to the President’s desk for signature. The legislation requires the Secretary of the Interior to report to Congress within one year on the results of the study.
“Sitting atop a hill in Fort Greene Park, the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument pays homage to brave American Revolutionary War heroes and patriots who lost their lives fighting for our nation’s independence,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY08). “They died so that we could be free. I greatly appreciate the leadership and effort of Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand with respect to this important bill. The passage of this legislation is a strong and meaningful step toward securing national parks designation for the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, and according it the dignity and respect it deserves.”
“Making the Prison Ship Martyrs monument a national monument pays tribute to the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during America’s Revolutionary War,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This recognition is long overdue and has the potential to greatly enhance tourism and economic activity in the surrounding area. With this designation, the Prison Ship Martyrs monument will have more exposure on a national stage and I look forward to this legislation being signed into law.”
“The Prison Ship Martyrs monument in Fort Greene memorializes the thousands of American prisoners of war who tragically died in captivity during the Revolutionary War while held in fetid hulks moored in nearby Wallabout Bay. It is our sacred responsibility to their sacrifice that we make sure all generations of Americans learn about America’s history and our great soldiers’ bravery, and this study will help better guide us on how to do that,” said Senator Schumer.
“The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument stands as a powerful reminder of the sacrifices thousands of Americans made to ensure our freedom,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx). “Designating the monument as a unit of the National Park Service would further protect its historical significance and I thank Congressman Jeffries and Senators Gillibrand and Schumer for spearheading the effort of this study and ensuring that these lives lost during the Revolutionary War aren’t forgotten.”
More than 11,500 American prisoners of war, known as prison ship martyrs, died in captivity during the American Revolutionary War against Great Britain. The 149-foot monument was built in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park in 1908 near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where many were buried in a tomb. When the threat of war passed, the grounds were used for recreation and relaxation. Today, Fort Greene Park is a community gathering space with a basketball court, playground, majestic trees, and the prison ship martyr, which is a constant reminder of the brave Americans.
The Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument Preservation Act was sponsored by Senators Gillibrand and Schumer in the Senate and Representative Jeffries sponsored the legislation in the House.