That was part of a gun salute from living history re-enactors following the unveiling of signs for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail at FDR State Park in Westchester County. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell was on hand for the unveiling and to kick off the National Park Service’s centennial week.
“The Hudson Valley has been working together for a long time to say we’ve got important parts of our nation’s history that need to be told right here. The Revolutionary War, the Industrial Revolution, the channel of the waterways here that was such an important part of moving goods and things as we became a young nation,” Jewell says. “So this is a place to celebrate how the community comes together and works with the National Park Service and city parks, state parks, to highlight these important places. And it’s been a National Heritage Area for some time. So, it’s an important part of the National Park Service and that’s why I’m here to kick off our celebration.”
“What’s your impression?” Dunne asks.
“It’s beautiful. It’s amazing. The only thing I’d say is, where are the kids? So we need to get New Yorkers to bring their kids out to places like this park.”
Yorktown resident and history teacher Gregory Smith attended the unveiling with his wife and two kids.
“And when we heard about it, we thought it’d be an exciting thing not only for us to see but really for our kids to be exposed to the history of the region but also kind of how it’s all linked together to the story of us, sustainability, the environment, community,” Smith says. “It’s a beautiful way to see it all intertwined together. And I think the speakers made an impression on us and hopefully on our kids as well.”
Jewell joined Congresswoman Nita Lowey. FDR State Park in Yorktown Heights is in the Democrat’s 17th district.
“Our parks are an invaluable resource. And it’s important today to tell our children what we are doing and what we have done to preserve their heritage,” Lowey says. “But, right now, this is just a special place and I hope that all the families who hear this will come to the parks, bring the children, and then remember that investing in our parks creates jobs, it’s economic opportunity and we have got to make sure that we protect and preserve them for future generations.”
The unveiling ceremony also marked the 235th anniversary of General Washington’s Continental Army joining forces with General Rochambeau’s French army in the lower Hudson Valley. Mark Castiglione is acting executive director of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and Greenway.
“This location is one of 20 in the lower Hudson Valley where signs like these will mark the Washington Rochambeau National Historic Trail,” Castiglione says. “Collectively, they represent the first interpretive elements of the newest national historic trail in the nation.”
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey says that about four months ago the state began using the Every-Kid-in-a-Park pass program from the National Park Service. It’s a pass for free entry into all state parks in 2016 for fourth graders.
“We’re also going to make transportation available to Title 1 schools to our historic sites and to our environmental education centers that are near those communities,” Harvey says.
Following her visit to FDR State Park, Jewell led an historic preservation roundtable at Bear Mountain State Park, with Lowey and Harvey.