To the Editor,
Ever been to Gettysburg? How about Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell? Did you ever have a class trip to Washington DC?
These are all sites rich with history – where American blood was spilt, where the great American Experiment began to take shape, and where we enshrine our principles and laws. These destinations are also engines of economic opportunity for their communities, bringing tourists to their hotels and small businesses.
Here in Rockland County, there are numerous notable sites – witnesses to critical junctures in American history. We have more than 70 different sites in the National Register of Historic Places.
In Tappan, the Old ’76 House was the home to the signing of the Orangetown Resolutions, signed on July 4th, 1774, two years before the Declaration of Independence, asserting that unfair taxation without representation from the British
Parliament was intolerable. Later in the Revolution, British spy and accomplice to Benedict Arnold, Major John Andre was tried, convicted, and executed for espionage; during the trial, Andre was held at the Tappan Reformed Church, with General George Washington using the nearby DeWint House as his headquarters.
In North Rockland, the Battle of Stony Point was a turning point in the American Revolution, helping secure control of the Hudson River for the Americans.
Civil War General John C. Fremont, who was the first-ever Republican candidate for President of the United States and the first Senator from the state of California, is buried in Sparkill.
When completed in 1924, the Bear Mountain Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world, helping serve as the architectural
model for the George Washington Bridge. It continues to serve as the Hudson River crossing for the Appalachian Trail.
Future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, on behalf of the NAACP, successfully represented African-American parents seeking to desegregate Hillburn’s Brooks School in 1943, 11 years before Brown v. Board of Education.
For tens of thousands of American soldiers in World War II, the Piermont Pier served as the departure point for those leaving for the European Theater.
Rich with American history, from our nation’s founding to World War II, Rockland County should be a must-see stop for any history buff. The seeds of the Declaration of Independence are in Orangetown, American blood was spilt in defense of liberty in Stony Point, and for many soldiers, some who never returned, the Piermont Pier was the last American soil their feet touched. These sites deserve recognition.
For too long, the status quo has allowed these sites to go unnoticed and overlooked. As County Executive, I will aggressively market the county and its rich history. In doing so, we not only celebrate Rockland’s role in shaping America, we also stimulate our local economy. Like other American battlefields, Independence Hall, or museums in Washington DC, Rockland’s historic sites can be engines of economic opportunity, for big and small businesses alike.
On this Independence Day, let us celebrate the great American Experiment – and Rockland is very much a part of that Experiment. Let us remember not just 1776, but also 1774, where a group of thoughtful, committed citizens began to change the world.
Democrat for Rockland County Executive