Come on down and meet Teddy Roosevelt!

Maple Grove Cemetery will host a Spanish-American War Re-enactment on Sunday, June 9, starting at 10:30 a.m.

With help from the Boots and Saddles production company, soldiers will wear era-appropriate frockcoats, military blouses, chevrons, and kepi hats and do battle in a way that’s safe for spectators. Some will ride properly saddled, combat-ready horses. Others might cling to their Gatling guns, muzzled rifles, and double-action revolvers. Expect brass-jacketed bullets and smokeless powder.

Plus, historians will be on hand to explain what life was like for combatants during the 1898 conflict.

Back to Teddy Roosevelt. At the time of the Spanish-American War, the future president was an assistant secretary of the Navy. He petitioned the authorities to allow him to form a volunteer regiment that became known as the “Rough Riders.” The only voluntary cavalry unit to see action, the Rough Riders fought in Cuba, including the famous Charge of San Juan Hill.

Those wanting more details will have to ask him on Sunday.

Admission is free, and there’s free parking. The event is dedicated to those who fought in this military campaign, including Arthur B. Hull, who is buried in the Kew Gardens cemetery.

As part of the fun, Maple Grove will display an exhibition of World War II military uniforms and gear.

Attendees can enter the grounds via the gate at Lefferts Boulevard and Kew Gardens Road. Most of the action will take place near the Victorian Administration Building.

The Spanish-American War, which started and ended in 1898, pitted the United States against Spain at a time when the European country’s colonial rule was waning. The fighting began in Cuba, which had been struggling for independence from Spain for a few years, but extended to the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, and some other islands. At the end, Spain relinquished these possessions.

The quick, decisive victory established the United States as the world’s new super power and a defender of global democracy. About 3,000 American soldiers lost their lives, but roughly 90 percent of them died from infectious diseases.

Images: Boots and Saddles (top); Frank D. Bradford II


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