150th anniversary of the USS Monitor.
The first ironclad Union warship, designed by the brilliant Swedish engineer and inventor John Ericsson, was launched 150 years ago.
It's hard to believe, but the dull, dejected-looking East River waterfront in Brooklyn's Greenpoint is the exact place where the USS Monitor, the Union's first ironclad warship, was launched. The launch took place 150 years ago on January 30, 1862. The Monitor was designed by the brilliant Swedish engineer and inventor, John Ericsson - a contemporary described it as a "cheesebox on a raft" as it consisted of a heavy, round, revolving iron gun turret on a flat deck. The launch place in Greenpoint is now the property of the Monitor Museum, which is yet to be built. To honor John Ericsson and also the builder of the Monitor, Thomas F. Roland, the last weekend of January was full of anniversary celebrations.
The celebration activities commemorating the USS Monitor began on Saturday with a history fair in Greenpoint, and a Civil War concert in the evening. It continued on Sunday with a memorial service at the Church of the Ascension, which was followed by a parade to the launch site—land donated by Motiva Enterprises, where, hopefully, one day a museum will be built.
At the launch site, the Rev. Paul A. Lorentzen presented a short invocation, calling to mind the people who worked on the Monitor. Council Member Stephen T. Levin spoke about the importance of dedicating ourselves to our history and our neighborhoods.
“The Monitor helped save our Union and the very ideal the U.S. was founded upon,” he said.
Many gave their remarks, but commander-in-chief of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Danny Wheeler, spoke most eloquently:
“Time doesn’t stand still. Here’s where people ran around 150 years ago, wondering whether the Monitor would work or not. They couldn’t have built a better ship—150 years later we know this. I see this place in the future, I see our children and our grandchildren coming here, honoring their history.”
A gun salute, courtesy of they USS Lehigh Garibaldi guards, rang out over the Bushwick inlet and sprays of water from an equally impressive water cannon salute by the FDNY added to the celebratory mood.
Behind much of the planning were Camp Commander George J. Weinmann, PCC Sons of Union Veterans and vice president of the Greenpoint Monitor Museum and his wife, Janice Lauletta-Weinmann, president of the Greenpoint Monitor Museum. The couple put together a splendid homage.
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