September 2023 Newsletter
As we turn our attention to the “off” season, I request your continued patience and perseverance while our diligent volunteers get the Warner house and collection ready to tour. We are confident that the West Point leadership is taking the proper time to analyze, listen, learn, and adapt a plan that works for all of us. Please reserve the date for our annual meeting and brunch Saturday, December 2nd and consider renewing your membership or contribute as we approach an exciting year ahead.
We have submitted the “Eagle Flag” to the Greater Hudson Heritage Network for a conservation grant and will hear by the end of the year. This unique flag was likely hand-stitched by the Warner sisters and flown in honor of President Lincoln when his funeral train passed the island in 1865.
There are so many treasures in our collection, and I remain optimistic that "REV250," the 250th anniversary of the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence (itself headed "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America") is a big deal for our state and the country. I know this is a priority for the Superintendent at West Point, and festivities surrounding it will be scheduled to mark various events leading up to the anniversary on July 4, 2026. A Congressional Committee has already been created, and I am sure the state will follow suit. Part of the vision for the United States Military Academy is to focus on the fortifications at West Point (three of them are on Constitution Island), and our partner Friends of the American Revolution are working through plans for restoration of these sites.
Let us continue to have faith and understand that perseverance empowers us to push forward despite all obstacles. We need to maintain an unwavering focus on our vision for education programs and the vision of Susan and Anna Warner. History recants the story of the two sisters who overcame the obstacles in their path, and as the Constitution Island Association, let us approach this with the same attitude that they did. With your support, we will remain a place for the Cadets and the community to experience the foundational
Peeking Back in Time by Cynthia Thomas
We all waited in the auditorium with hushed tones. The West Point
historian, Jenn Voightschild, directed the archeologist Paul Hudson,
to “open that box” – a time capsule unearthed from the Kosciuszko
monument base that had likely been sealed in 1828.
He pried and cut, and cameras zoomed in on his gloved hands.
His helper shown the flashlight into the four corners and the United
States Military Academy Superintendent LTG Steven Gilland watched with the rest of us as the camera captured only dust and a few caked-up silt rocks.
The air went out of the room, even while the academic panel took over and continued the real reason for the gathering, a recognition of the man President Thomas Jefferson called, “The purest son of Liberty that I have ever known.” Pictured above are Cadet Devon Morris '24, and from left LTC Rory McGovern, Dr. Rob McDonald, COL Seanegan Sculley, and Dr. Sam Watson from the USMA History department.
This anticipated moment was not wasted on the oldest military academy in America. They invited academics and supporters and even had a polish exchange student list off Thaddeus Kościuszko’s achievements as the officer Gen. George Washington put in charge of designing and constructing the most important fort of the American Revolutionary War – West Point. Andrzej Tadeusz Bonaventura Kościuszko (1746-1817), was a Polish general, military engineer, and revolutionary who not only participated in an uprising in his home country but came abroad to fight for freedom. He was known for his bravery, kindness, patriotism, likeability, and unwavering strength of character.
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My job at USMA West Point has some good perks and benefits. As a civilian employee, I can take part in many activities sponsored by FWMR, the office of Family, Welfare, and Morale Services. Recently, I was excited to take part in a FMWR program to take a kayak trip across the Hudson River and onto Constitution Island.
It was a muggy Saturday morning when my fiancé, Maggie, and I joined about a dozen other enthusiasts and launched our kayaks off the South Dock at West Point. With the tide going out and the river currents swirling, it was something of an adventure to make the short trip across the river. But we made it safe and sound. It was Maggie’s first-time kayaking, so naturally she had some difficulty navigating the opposing current. However, the staff members were incredibly helpful in lending a hand, or more appropriately, a rope to tie to her kayak so that she could paddle along and catch up to the group.
Upon arriving onshore, we were greeted by Roddy MacLeod, the long-time caretaker of Constitution Island and the Warner House Museum. Roddy was an exceptional host, greeting everyone in the group with gracious introduction and conversation. Any historical questions about the site asked by members of the group were answered most enthusiastically by Roddy. Although we were not able to go inside the house, Roddy gave a great tour of the site's history. He has so many interesting stories about its role in the Revolutionary War, the Warner sisters who lived in the house and how the island became part of the US Military Academy at West Point. After the tour, everyone was able to explore the island on their own. We enjoyed a walk through the beautiful gardens, had a picnic lunch, took in the natural beauty of the island, and then made our way back to West Point. What an amazing day!
We are glad to have been able to visit Constitution Island. What a terrific place and what a unique opportunity. Thanks to FMWR for offering this program. Thanks to Roddy and all the staff and volunteers at Constitution Island for preserving this unique part of our country's history and culture. By Bob Glisson
Alexa Young, CA