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Bronck celebrates patriots in wars spanning Revolution to WWII

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    Melanie Lekocevic/Columbia-Greene Media A costumed interpreter portrays a diarist from the Civil War during Community Patriots Day at the Bronck House.
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    Melanie Lekocevic/Columbia-Greene Media Costumed interpreter Chris Byas portrays Caroline Fay Hallock, a nurse during World War I when an influenza epidemic swept the country.
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    Melanie Lekocevic/Columbia-Greene Media Despite a soaking rain outside, musicians in period dress entertained the crowd under a tent during Community Patriots Day at the Bronck Museum.
June 12, 2018 12:54 am Updated: June 12, 2018 12:54 am

COXSACKIE — History buffs gathered under a large tent on the grounds of the Bronck House in late May to celebrate local patriots who contributed to the nation’s wars, from the Revolution up to World War II.

Usually an outdoor celebration on the lawn, this year Community Patriots Day was met with a deluge of rain, so most of the festivities were moved under a tent.

The day is designed to honor five local patriots and to celebrate their contributions to America’s wars from the 1700s to the 1900s.

Each of the five patriots was played by a costumed interpreter in period dress, who read the history and writings of their historical figure. Each of the figures were local men and women who made significant contributions during the nation’s wars.

They included a Revolutionary War clergyman, a physician during the War of 1812, a Civil War diarist, a nurse serving in the Army Nurse Corps during World War I, and a prisoner of war during World War II.

In between readings, musicians, also in historical costume, performed, and a singer belted out some tunes. The entertainment was provided by the 77th New York Regimental Balladeers.

New Baltimore resident Chris Byas portrayed Caroline Fay Hallock, a nurse who worked on the battlefield during World War I.

Hallock is buried at Waldron Cemetery in Ravena, Byas said.

During the war, Hallock joined the army nurse reserves, and spoke of the devastation wrought by a deadly influenza epidemic that killed countless people of the era.

“In 1917 to 1918, influenza broke out in this country,” Byas recounted, dressed in an early 20th century nurse’s uniform. “As soldiers travelled for training, it spread rapidly.”

The disease, which shared characteristics with pneumonia, moved in a steady march east.

Hallock, meanwhile, served stateside early in the war, but died before she could head to the battlefield in an era when medical intervention on the surgical table could be dicey at best.

“I had been preparing to go overseas with my unit, but I died on the operating table in 1917,” Byas said, speaking as Caroline Fay Hallock.

In the usual tradition for Community Patriots Day, the afternoon began with a reading of the Coxsackie Association of 1775, a document that preceded the Declaration of Independence by one year. The Coxsackie Association was signed by 225 residents of Coxsackie who wanted to express their displeasure with the treatment of the colonies by the British king.