The city’s parks Tuesday unveiled a replacement Spanish memorial plaque in Fort Greene Park, intended to honor the Spanish martyrs who gave their lives during the American Revolutionary War.
The original plaque – presented as a gift from King Juan Carlos of Spain in 1976 – was hastily placed on the west side of the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument and deteriorated over time due to vandalism and weather conditions. The plaque was eventually moved to the Fort Greene Park Visitor Center.
The new monument was unveiled on October 5, during Hispanic Heritage Month. At the presentation of the plaque, members of the Spanish Institute Queen Sofia, the National Association of the Daughters of the Revolution and others spoke about the history and importance of the plaque.
Patrice Degnan-Erquicia, executive director of the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute Executive, said it is important to him to share the story of the Spanish soldiers.
“We have gathered here to celebrate the Spanish speaking world together [and] their contributions to a great nation,” said Degnan-Erquicia. “What better time to do it than now [during] National Hispanic Heritage Month – to remember all those who built this beautiful, independent nation?
The new bronze tablet was funded by the Spanish electric utility Iberdrola and is set in a natural stone boulder on the east side of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument square.
Earlier this year, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission criticized the Parks Department’s plans for a replacement monument, claiming the new plaque and proposed site in the park were both disappointing and “humiliating.” Members suggested that Parks move to erect something more substantial, if not more, than the original monument — and in a more prominent location.
In response to the feedback, a Parks Department spokesperson told Brooklyn Paper, the agency chose to place the new plaque closer to the plaza.
In any case, the new monument received a lot of praise on Tuesday.
“Place and period markers are so important,” said Laurie Cumbo, a city council member and New York City Council majority leader. “Without them, the stories of those who came before us, who made freedom possible for all of us, would never be told. It is my pleasure to support these organizations, and it is my honor to remember the Spaniards who gave their lives in the American Revolution.”
The timing of the reveal, Cumbo said, was also particularly poignant.
“To do this during Spanish Heritage Month, everything is in place for me,” she said. “Today’s unveiling is one of the many reasons I’m so proud to call Brooklyn home.”
“The Conservancy believes we are stronger as a community and nation when we recognize the diversity of contributions to our democracy,” added Rosamond Fletcher, executive director of the Fort Greene Park Conservancy. “We are grateful that the plaque honoring the brave Spanish soldiers will be back in the park for all users to appreciate.”
Editor’s Note: A version of this story originally appeared in Brooklyn Paper. click here to see the original story.