Out and About: Monuments

There are many nice place around the town of Princeton to which few students ever go. On Wednesday, I discovered another one of them.

The Battle of Princeton was fought on January 3, 1777. Although it is not as famous as the Battle of Saratoga or Yorktown, it definitely had a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War. In it, General Washington displayed his signature tactical brilliance and mustered the courage of his fleeing troops to fight the advancing British army. After the American victory, morale increased as more colonists were inspired to join the revolutionary cause.

As I walked to the Seminary Library, I stopped at Princeton Battle Monument Park on the western end of Nassau Street. It is a nice little urban park within a larger community. Trees lined a path to a larger monument. To the right, there was a bust of Albert Einstein and a man reading a newspaper.

The main spectacle was the Battle of Princeton Monument. Its carvings take inspiration from the Arc de Triomphe. This monument pays homage to Washington’s victory and displays the death of General Mercer, who is also commemorated in the opening lines of “The Room Where It Happens” from Hamilton. Several other monuments were to its left.

One of Delaware’s favorite sons had a crucial role in the Battle. A marker explained the role of Colonel John Haslet in leading the American soldiers to victory. Colonel Haslet lived in Milford, Delaware, a 15-minute drive from my town. I also won a scholarship from the Daughters of the American Revolution that has helped me afford Princeton. The local chapter that sponsored me was named after Haslet. He was friends with Caesar Rodney too, a resident of Dover and for whom my high school was named. Even though these men are gone, their legacies live on.

Back in the day, Princeton was a happening place. The Triangle Club wouldn’t have been able to write the line, “nothing ever happens in Princeton” during colonial times. This park reminded me that history always surrounds us at this university, and that we should take the time to learn about it.

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