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Anchored In Long Island History

Brian Kilmeade

uncovers LI’s past

In spite of the cold and first snow of the season, more than 175 people trekked to the Huntington Book Revue to meet a native son, Massapequa resident Brian Kilmeade, co-anchor of the morning news program Fox and Friends on the Fox News channel. Kilmeade, with Don Yeager, has just written a book titled “George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution,” which tells the little known story of how ordinary New Yorkers became spies to help Washington defeat the British by sneaking messages between Long Island and Manhattan.

Kilmeade has always had a passion for history. He first became intrigued with the historical spy story in 1990 when he was in Manhasset one day and saw that they were painting a line down the street.  

“They were doing a celebration on George Washington coming here to thank his spies,” he said. “I could not believe this story, I thought it was fiction. The more I pursed it the more important I thought it was. I was able to team with Don Yeager and attack it from an investigative story point of view. We met with the leading historians on Long Island and talked with the CIA and were able to move the story forward. This story not only fascinates me but also blows me away. I went to Long Island University, I grew up in Massapequa and went to school there and no one ever brought me on a field trip, no one ever talked about it. It would have been the easiest thing to feel and touch but it never made it to the curriculum. What I am finding is gratifying now is that I have a lot of teenagers writing me saying I love this story.”

Kilmeade wanted to do a book signing on Long Island because he felt this was really a Long Island story.

“If you take the 13 colonies the way we started you see New York right here in the middle,” he said. “The more people we talked with historians and the CIA guys I talked with, the story got bigger and bigger. Mt. Vernon is building a wing now and the spy museum in Washington DC has an area for it. I think Long Island is getting a big push on this because a lot of people, believe it or not, don’t even know there is a Long Island. They think there is New York City and Aruba.”

Kilmeade pointed out a former high school classmate in the audience and discussed field trips.

“Don’t you think we should have been going on field trips to look at the Culper Spy ring instead of going to see more of Radio City organs that are now on Long Island,” he said. “I was going to Brady Park to play softball when I could have been going to see these museums.”

Kilmeade shared with the audience the importance of taking the family to some of the historical places on Long Island and learning the history of this country. He spoke very highly of the historians who helped him, from Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay and the Three Villages Historical Society in Stonybrook.

He also joked how he is influencing a new generation of teenagers who are reading his book and writing about it.

“I read one review on line that said, ‘I am 16 years old, this is the best book I ever read and I just want to go back in time in a Delorean and punch a British guy in the mouth,’” he laughed. “I guess I reached them. I could be having an influence on the next generation.”

Kilmeade and his wife grew up in Massapequa and in spite of a few years in California, he decided that Massapequa was the place he wanted to settle down in and raise a family. He played soccer in Massapequa and now coaches the game with the next generation.

“It’s a good town to live in, it has everything,” he said, adding that he graduated from Massapequa High School along with his wife in 1982. “We know where we are going, we know so many people here and it’s amazing how many people we keep in touch with from high school.”

Like most young people just out of college, Kilmeade often struggled to find work. Now with the title of author added to his television and radio résumé, Kilmeade urges young people to take a lesson from General Washington — keep your nose to the ground and don’t give up.

“For one thing they should stop listening to people who say there are no jobs. There are jobs for people who hustle. Every day you go for a job you should do everything you are supposed to do to research that job. You should follow up on that job, dress right, research the person who is going to interview you. Whether you get it or not it’s been a success.  You have got to approach every interview like its important, every job opportunity like it’s a step toward getting that job and it will happen,” he said. “The more you explore, the more questions you ask, the more you hustle, the closer you get to doing your thing. It doesn’t just happen. That perfect person, the perfect job, the perfect occupation, 99 percent of the time is not going to call you. Go after it and during the process give yourself credit for getting closer and closer to the end.”