The Bayside Historical Society, along with the Company K 67th Volunteers Association, community leaders and American Legion members, paid tribute to Civil War Captain William Dermody at his memorial site in Bayside’s Dermody Triangle on May 23.
Among the local leaders on hand were Councilwomen Linda Lee and Vickie Paladino.
Company K, dressed in Union soldier uniforms and armed with replica Civil War rifles, performed a present arms salute for Dermody. Afterward, a wreath was hung on the memorial by members of the Bayside Historical Society and Company K to honor the captain and all other veterans who fight for the United States.
“It’s important to honor our veterans’ contributions to the United States,” Lee said. “I think sometimes we take too lightly and forget how privileged we are thanks to our veterans.”
“We so often take all of [our freedom] for granted,” Paladino said. “We need to cherish the men and women who serve each and every day for us.”
The council members and Bayside Historical Society also provided updates on the planned reconstruction project at Dermody Triangle. Some of the new features will include stone benches, making the area wheelchair-accessible, new lighting, new paths, new trees, redone stonework and the addition of a flower bed. According to Lee, renovation work could begin as early as this year.
Also present at the ceremony were a few military jeeps, courtesy of the Bayside Historical Vehicle Preservation group. At least one of them had actually taken part in the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy.
An outspoken abolitionist, Dermody volunteered for the Union’s 67th New York Infantry and served for the first regiment of Long Island volunteers, Company K. Some of the battles he and his regiment took part in during the Civil War include the battles of Gettysburg, the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. Dermody was mortally wounded during the Battle of Spotsylvania in Virginia on May 12, 1864, dying at the age of 34.
The plot of land on 216th Street and 48th Avenue now known as Captain Dermody Triangle had previously occupied a two-room schoolhouse. In 1866, the area was dedicated to Dermody, with a ceremonial meeting between a Union and Confederate veteran occurring.
The veterans planted a maple tree there to represent the North and sycamore to represent the South, with the idea that they would grow together to symbolize communal hope for a better union. A monument was placed and remains there today, with the inscription “For a Better Union 1861-1865.”
According to Bayside Historical Society President Paul DiBenedetto, it was Dermody’s sister, Mrs. James O’Donnell, who set aside the piece of land in 1866 to honor him. However, over time veterans stopped meeting there and the community almost forgot about the area’s significance.
On March 15, 1937, the City Council’s predecessor, the Board of Alderman, officially named the property for Dermody. In 1973, the Bayside Historical Society held a cleanup ceremony and rededication at the triangle. Since then, the Bayside Historical Society has annually placed a wreath on the monument around Memorial Day. On July 29, 1997, the property’s name was changed to Captain Dermody Triangle. The triangle is bounded by a low stone wall with Kwanzan cherry, maidenhair and red maple trees.