DY: In Just a Few Words (#37)
George Washington's battlefield was my childhood playground.
Next Sunday Americans will celebrate 245 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. There is no better time than that to reflect on our Revolutionary War.
One of the most famous symbols of this conflict is a painting known as Washington Crossing the Delaware. That event occurred just north of the city of Trenton, New Jersey, on Christmas night of 1776. In and around what is today the city of Trenton there were three significant Revolutionary War battles - the Battle of Trenton (December 26, 1776), the Battle of Assunpink Creek (January 2, 1777) and the Battle of Princeton (January 3, 1777). These are often cited by historians as the 10 Crucial Days that turned the war in favor of the Colonials. The Battle of Princeton is of particular interest to me as that’s where I spent some of my growing-up years.
Less than two miles from the center of Princeton, there is a large public space that is the Princeton Battlefield State Park. This is an important historic site as General George Washington and his troops prevailed over British Regulars who were trying to maintain control of colonial insurgents seeking independence. The Battle of Princeton is an important marker of the American Revolution and all that it stands for.
Today, this beautiful and peaceful park continues on, but it was once a wooded area and the site of a major military operation with lots of gunfire and casualties. As a boy, I spent several years living in the literal shadows of that battlefield on Mercer Road (named for General Hugh Mercer, who was mortally wounded in that battle). The park, at that time, was basically a multi-acre grass area on both sides of Mercer Road featuring a really tall flagpole at its highest point and the famed Mercer Oak in the middle.
In addition to crossing the Delaware, General Washington’s troops also crossed Stony Brook, which is just a few hundred yards to the west of the Princeton Battlefield site. I spent hundreds and perhaps thousands of hours fishing in Stony Brook - often just on the other side of the road from a Quaker Meeting House, built in 1726. Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, is buried there.
Growing up, I was literally surrounded by reminders of American history. As July 4 is now only a few days away, it gives me pause to reflect again on how fortunate I am to have spent formative years in such an historic area. And, how fortunate I am to be an American.
The preamble to the Declaration of Independence contains these powerful words: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among those are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. We still have work to do if we are to bring those words to life. I will reflect on that July 4.
My blog next week will take a different and surprising look at the Princeton Battlefield State Park. Stay tuned.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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