PRINCETON, N.J. –
“Today, we celebrate America’s birthday -  years of exceptional American history and accomplishment,” said Maj. Gen. Rodney Faulk, commanding general of the Army Reserve's 99th Readiness Division, during Princeton Battlefield State Park's July 4 celebration.
In April 1775, the Battle of Lexington and Concord was fought between Colonial militia and British regulars, inaugurating the American Revolutionary War. Approximately 60 days later, the Continental Congress authorized the formation of the Continental Army.
“Our founding fathers knew the price for failure was high, and the penalty for treason against the Crown would most certainly be death,” Faulk said. “You know war is not an easy undertaking, and in the early days of the Revolutionary War, the losses were high and morale was low."
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, signed by 56 founding fathers.
“I marvel at the founding fathers: their wisdom, their courage, their fortitude in forging a new nation - a republic of unlimited, boundless opportunity for all, and of limited government of, by and for the people,” Faulk said. “The Declaration of Independence enumerates the numerous grievances by Great Britain into colonial affairs. It also enumerates multiple attempts to redress to those grievances with King George, and those attempts were met with further injury every time.
By December 1776, the Colonial Army won two decisive victories at the First Battle of Trenton and the Second Battle of Trenton, and Gen. George Washington made a strategic decision - instead of immediately encamping for the winter, he would press the initiative and attack again.
“Imagine living in those times. Imagine what it was like, and ask yourself two questions: 'What would you risk for liberty?' and 'What can you do every day to make America a better place that lives up to its founding ideals?'" Faulk asked. "Make those the questions worth pondering today on America's birthday."
In January 1777, Washington attacked the British again at Princeton and, because of decisive leadership during the battle, victory was won. There was great effect from this victory: the colonists and the Continental Congress had renewed confidence that the war could actually be won. Recruitment was bolstered that following spring, and the British ultimately abandoned New Jersey.
“Since the first days of our founding, courageous American men and women have taken up arms in the defense of liberty, often against hostile forces in desolate places around the globe," Faulk said. "They do this because they swore an oath to the Constitution of the United States. They swore this oath because some ideals are worth fighting for."