BROOKLYN - Some might consider it a stretch, but it can safely be said that the 106-foot-long "Liberty Pole" on the front lawn of the New Utrecht Reformed Church in Bensonhurst is the only remaining such symbol of America's freedom found anywhere on the face of the Earth. That piece of earth, in Brooklyn, also is where President George Washington once stood.
Others might say the New Utrecht "Liberty Pole," with its "Liberty Eagle" on top, almost was "born" before the USA. The first pole was raised by New Utrecht patriots to celebrate the end of the Revolutionary War and the withdrawal of British troops from the 13 colonies, on Nov. 25, 1783, "Evacuation Day."
Saturday, Nov. 22, a free band concert, called "Salute to the Liberty Pole," will celebrate the 225th birthday. The concert, at 7:30 p.m. in the church Parish House, will be given by the InterSchool Orchestra Symphonic Band with Brian P. Worsdale conducting. On Sunday, Rev. Terry Troia, pastor of the historic church, will conduct an all-faith worship service at 11 a.m. Veterans and others who want to share in recalling the nation's earliest history are invited to attend.
"This is a wonderful time for all of us to come together, to learn more about our country's earliest years of freedom," Robert Buonvino, president of Friends of Historic New Utrecht, said.
"Especially young people, among them school children, find our programs to be highly educational. We have much to be proud of in this land of liberty."
The "Liberty Eagle" on the top of pole is the same one on the first pole raised at the site. This pole is the sixth. The first flag was a "Betsy Ross," with 13 stars and 13 stripes.
Historians note that seven years later, on Tuesday, April 20, 1790, George Washington visited school children at a school house near the flagpole, where the Reformed church building, which dates from 1828, now stands. According to the president's diary, the visit included having supper at an inn opposite the 1654 cemetery that the church maintains to this day at 16th Ave. and 84th St.
This also is the 100th anniversary of the New Utrecht Liberty Pole Association. Records show the association was organized in the parlor of the Van Pelt Manor and incorporated in 1908. The association's president now is Rose Lood, a longtime church leader from Bay Ridge.
The Friends of Historic New Utrecht uses the Liberty Pole for its educational programs when teaching school children about the American flag. The organization is working to put together a collection of large flags representing all the flags the nation has known since 1783. Each is 12 by 18 feet. They are used on special dates and observances during the year, and for school tours.
The New Utrecht Reformed Church, formerly the New Utrecht Dutch Reformed Church, is a member of the Reformed Church in America (RCA). The church was founded in 1677. Its sanctuary building has been closed since December 2003 for a $2 million repair and restoration.
Parking is on the church grounds, at 18th Ave. between 83rd and 84th Streets. Subway and bus lines are nearby. Light refreshments will be served after the concert.
More information about the Saturday concert, the Sunday church service and about membership in the Friends of Historic New Utrecht and the New Utrecht Liberty Pole Association is available at (718) 256-7173 and (718) 234-9268 and at historicnewutrecht.org
PR services donated by bhpr EspeciallyforChurches November 2008