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NEWS | July 8, 2021

Army Reserve leader honors forefather’s legacy during July 4 celebration

By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris 99th Readiness Division

Celebrating Independence Day at Princeton Battlefield July 4 held a personal connection for Command Sgt. Maj. John Zimmerman.

“My sixth great grandfather was a young Continental Soldier, Private John Zimmerman, who was among those fighting on this very soil,” said Zimmerman, who served as keynote speaker for the Fourth of July event hosted by the Princeton Battlefield Society.

“He fought in seven major battles and campaigns of the Revolutionary War,” said Zimmerman, who serves as command sergeant major for the U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division headquartered at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. “I, too, have served on numerous battlefields in my 37-year career – the DMZ in Korea, Panama, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, the middle-east, Africa and Afghanistan – and I am proud to continue the legacy of service to this nation started by Private Zimmerman nearly two-and-a-half centuries ago.”

Eight days before the Battle of Princeton, General George Washington and his forces conducted a successful crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas morning to defeat British and Hessian forces in nearby Trenton.

On January 2nd, 1777, General Charles Cornwallis attacked Washington in Trenton with British forces brought down from New York City. In the early morning hours of January 3rd, Washington marched his armies north to Princeton under cover of darkness.

During the ensuing battle, our forces saw approximately 25 killed and 40 wounded, with British forces suffering around 20 killed and 60 wounded as well as 200 captured by the Continental Army.

“Consider how lucky we are to have the kind of freedom that we have, but also remember that it has come at a cost,” said Mike Russell, president of the Princeton Battlefield Society.

This much-needed victory, coming only a week after a key win at Trenton, kept the Continental Army intact after a string of defeats in the New York City area and a long retreat across New Jersey into Pennsylvania.

“We’re it not for those brave Soldiers winning the day and reinforcing the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence signed less than six months earlier in Philadelphia, we would not be here today,” Zimmerman said.

“For over two centuries, citizens of the United States have refused to let this country be less than its promise. Although it has not been perfect, at every turn there have been Americans who insisted that we live up to the words of the Declaration of Independence,” Zimmerman continued.

“At every challenge there were Soldiers willing to defend the nation, and guarantee the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to all of our citizens,” he added.