In most of my eleven summers before September 11th, 2001, I, like many Bay Ridge residents, literally frolicked on the Fort Hamilton Army Base. It now seems unthinkable that not all people were assumed to be terrorists and anyone could pass through the relatively inactive army base with as little as a nod to the bored soldier manning the check-in booth. On a playground overlooking the Narrows, I would fly on a swing, dig holes in the sand, and think about the greasy Burger King hamburger I would inevitably ask my parents to buy on the base. The hot days would be cooled in a once public swimming pool, and I could look forward to the day when my 68th precinct baseball team would graduate from the cozy field on Shore Road to the man-sized fields on the army base. As we know, everything changed.
The base was locked down to most outsiders, I played some ball on the far shittier Dyker Park fields, and the era of openness ended for good. Ft. Hamilton has been on the chopping block for a while because not much goes on there. Very few active duty soldiers live at the base. It handles tests and physicals for new recruits before they are shipped off to their posts and the Army Corps of Engineers has a recruitment office there, though according to the Brooklyn Paper, they’ve been trying to leave.
Despite this, our token psychopath congressman Michael Grimm and the far more vanilla New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand have joined forces to save the fort by desperately trying to lure big shot tenants like the CIA and FBI. With the Pentagon due for a much-needed budget trimming, many feel Ft. Hamilton could easily be cut, and Grimm and Gillibrand are launching what amounts to a preemptive strike.
Why save the base? It’s not as if it will serve as any deterrent to terrorist attacks, even with a new tenant. New York is plenty protected. Continuing to spend money on a useless military appendage is one more symptom of the destructive military-industrial complex that 9/11 sent into overdrive. Besides, Ft. Hamilton Park has a much nicer ring to it than Ft. Hamilton Army Base.