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American independence celebrated at Princeton Battlefield

Princeton Battlefield Historical Educator Will Krakower (center) reads the Declaration of Independence to 200 visitors on July 4 in Princeton.

More than 200 people joined in the celebration of America’s 246th Independence Day as they gathered together at Princeton Battlefield State Park.

The celebration event on July 4 was sponsored by the Princeton Battlefield Society (PBS).

According to PBS, following an introduction and welcome by PBS President Michael Russell, the event began with a flag raising ceremony and a stirring rendition of “America the Beautiful” by Krista Hastings, soloist and graduate of Westminster Choir College.

Command Sgt. Major John Zimmerman of the Army 99th Readiness Group, Fort Dix, followed with a compelling address that blended personal history with important historical themes.

Zimmerman described the service of his direct ancestor and namesake in the Battle of Princeton and four subsequent Revolutionary War battles, and he went on note the continuing importance of the armed forces in the defense of the country to the present day.

He emphasized, though, that America’s greatest strength has always been the recommitment of every generation to ensuring that the ideals announced to the world in the Declaration of Independence are brought ever closer to complete fulfillment, according to PBS.

The centerpiece of the event was provided by Will Krakower, the Princeton
Battlefield historical educator, who gave a rousing reading of the declaration itself.

The connection between the declaration announced on July 4, 1776, and the Battle of Princeton, which took place less than six months later on January 3, 1777, was not lost
on many present, since the battle and the Ten Crucial Days Trenton/Princeton campaign that preceded it were critical in keeping the revolution from being extinguished before the end of its first year.

The ceremony closed with Hastings singing “God Bless America” and final
remarks by Russell.

According to PBS, many visitors stayed on to take part in tours of the battlefield led by William L. “Larry” Kidder – author of “Revolutionary Princeton” and other recent books on the American Revolution in New Jersey – and Roger Williams, a leading expert on the Ten Crucial Days Campaign and the Battle of Princeton.

Regular tours of the Battlefield will begin again in July following the hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, and the tour schedule can be found at www.pbs1777.org. 

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