When Jeromus Remsen went off to fight in the Revolutionary War, could he have imagined his remains would rest in what would become a busy little urban triangle, in sight of Trader Joe’s, Staples, Bob’s Discount Furniture and a car wash ?
Although this area was predominately loyal to the British in the Revolution, Remsen was all in for this new America thing. He was Colonel in the Kings and Queens militia. (The counties were, ironically, named for the monarchy that he helped kick out.) His family home — and consequently, the family burial plot — were in what would become either Rego Park or Forest Hills, depending on whom you ask. (I say Rego.)
Rego Park is located in what was the Hempstead Swamp, fertile land that extended east into what is now Nassau County, Long Island. It’s all transient. There is no swamp here, just lots of residents, buses and cars.
Back in 2008, the New York Daily News reported on local efforts to protect the graves, including an idiotic plan to enclose it with a wrought-iron fence. Thankfully, most of the “improvements” never happened. A local group tends to the flowers. A simple chain around the perimeter reminds visitors not to get too close; I didn’t see any vandalism so the honor system seems to be working here.
I don’t understand the two statues of World War I Doughboys, standing like ghostly guards over the graves. The statues would seem out-of-place unless the intent is to tie their efforts to the Revolutionary War. (Visually speaking, though, they at least add some vertical interest, deflecting the eye from the windowless side of an adjacent house.)
With Independence Day weekend a week away, it’s nice to be reminded that some brave people fought hard for their belief in a free country and in “no taxation without representation.” They are the reason why we get to have our long weekends, parades and barbecues on the Fourth of July.