YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Yorktown police officer and Revolutionary War buff Michael Kahn is leading a charge to bring a life-size statue commemorating the Battle of Pines Bridge to John Downing Park.
The nearly eight-foot-tall monument would face Presbyterian Church and cemetery from the park. The remains of Col. Christopher Greene, one of 38 soldiers killed in the May 14, 1781 battle, are interred at the cemetery.
"This project's aim is to erect a monument to honor the cultural diversity of the Rhode Island Regiment under the command of the Col. Christopher Greene and to memorialize Greene and the Regiment's members who made the ultimate sacrifice defending Pines Bridge," said Kahn, who is also a member of the Yorktown Historical Society.
Greene's regiment defended the present-day Yorktown Heights against a New York loyalist unit known as the "Refugees." Kahn called Greene “an unsung hero of our past and overlooked Founding Father.”
The statue will have three soldiers of different ethnic backgrounds fighting side-by-side in the battle. It will feature an African American soldier, an American Indian solider and a European American soldier.
“Ultimately I hope that this monument will raise the awareness of the contributions of African American and Native American soldiers during the War for Independence,” Kahn said. “I want to highlight the fact that we did originally have integrated regiments in our armed services long before the desegregation in the Korean War.”
The Historical Society is hoping to build the statue by May 2014, but will first need to raise $300,000. One of its fundraising efforts is selling bricks for a pathway that will lead to the monument. Bricks can be purchased online.
Once erected, Kahn believes the statue will become a major tourist attraction for Yorktown. The officer also regularly maintains a Facebook group in support of the project.
The Yorktown Historical Society was formed in 1956 under former Supervisor John Downing. Two years later, Westchester County donated 25 acres to Yorktown that became Downing Park. In 1963, the town purchased additional land to extend the park.