Remembering a Captain who refused freedom

On this Memorial Day we honor those who died fighting for us in war. Capt Abraham Van Dyke of New York militia was imprisoned on a British ship following the Battles of Long Island and of Fort Washington during the Revolutionary War.

About 1700 Continental soldiers were imprisoned on ships in conditions horrific and rank. Hundreds succumbed to disease and neglect. Blankets not to be had even though it was winter time. Food scarce and foul.

The Captain refused an offer of freedom because he would not take his liberty if the men of his company remained behind imprisoned. The only option offered by the British was to fight on the side of the English.

Many soldiers of the New York patriots (like him) had been forced to flee their homes in New York City when the British took control there.

Abraham died on board the prison ship, March 1777, possibly of smallpox. Most of his fellow prisoners also perished with only  surviving to see freedom. Abraham’s wife and young daughter, living as refugees, also passed away that year. Only an infant son survived and was raised by his brother, Nicholas Van Dyke and his wife Charlotte of Delaware.

Abraham’s story is only one of the many who died in wartime.

To them — may we remember


For London

For you in London, today is the day  life shifts

Tessaracts with the speed of light.

As unaware  you open the door

See the person who stands there

Sorry etched in shadowed eyes

Stumbling words poring out that mean nothing


But your heart quivers breaks rhythm

This is not real.

Beating thoughts rush through you of nights together

And this morning’s you saying pick up a gallon of milk while you’re at the store

And. All. Oh God all you wanted to say tonight

But tonight the supper already fixed will become rubbish fill

The comforter on the bed stay smooth

But there won’t be any comfort Not tonight. Maybe never again

As you plunge into the pit of unreality

Heaped on your those stumbling words

Of “I am sorry to say this… ”

By Mary Lou Van Dyke  © 2017