1. You are window shopping quite briskly as you cruise past the ice cream shop, and then you spot 'em...revolutionary soldiers, about five of them. I have a very distinct reason now why I am hanging around outside waiting for them to come out.
2. Besides the fact that I am a blogger, for the first time in my life on my way to New Hope on Saturday, December 17th, I asked my husband to take a detour, just a block or two off our normal route and stop at Washington's Crossing. It was a pretty cold afternoon and I wondered how the temperatures were on the date of the official crossing. I found George's tent.
3. Right next to the tent is a large barn structure and inside the barn are two boats that look like large canoes to me but they are actually replicas of the boats that Washington and his troops took on December 25th. The Durham boat was designed to transport products across the Delaware River and specifically requested by Washington during the American Revolution when he made the first surprise attack on the Hessian Troops on Christmas Day 1776.
4. I wasn't exactly sure where the crossing took place so I just took a picture of the river between Pennsylvania and New Jersey with the bridge in the background. Nor am I sure how wide the river was at the time compared to 245 years later. Both sides of the Delaware River where the crossing took place have been preserved, in an area designated as the Washington's Crossing National Historic Landmark. In this district, Washington Crossing Historic Park in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, preserves the area in Pennsylvania, and Washington Crossing State Park marks the New Jersey side. The two areas are connected by the Washington Crossing Bridge.
5. I am sure however that this is McCockney's Ferry Inn, the tavern that General Washington and his troop's visited prior to the crossing. It is the original building.
6. I could not believe my luck, the soldiers finally emerged from the ice cream store and I back tracked just a little and ask if I may take a photograph of them. Being dutiful soldiers they all lined up for a photograph....except for one. He stepped aside.
7. I questioned him, "Wouldn't you like to be part of the picture?" He said, "No I don't need my picture taken", in an almost snippy, cantankerous fashion. He was dressed slightly different from the rest of the group so it would have been nice to have him too but I didn't push him and I took the picture of the rest of the troop.
8. We proceeded down Main Street and are now part of the brigade with who I was soon to find out was led by General George Washington. My husband, he's so smart, recognized him from the uniform and he asked the general, "why are you dressed up tonight", "are you practicing"?
9. Yup, he spoke to General George Washington, eventually to be the first President of the United States just like that....the cantankerous guy. In a very dignified manner, George declared they were in uniform tonight to fire the cannon. I'm guessing this is a normal thing to do in New Hope one week prior to one of the most significant battles and turning points of the American Revolution. I, now started conversing with George, doing a little name dropping, because you see I happen to have worked for several years with a American Revolution soldier who reenacts crossing that river every year as an officer. So I asked George if he knew him. Here I go, questioning authority. You would think I would know better. He was very gracious and did not recall the name but offered his in return. We were now friends and he agreed to be part of the next picture.
10. "General Washington" proceeded to tell us that each year on December 25th, the crossing along with, and he shuttered to use this word. "theatrics" begin about 1pm. He asked if we were attending. I think if I agreed this leader would have put us in a boat, using any soldier he could get to win that battle. We told him the event is definitely on our list but Christmas Day is a tough time to commit to. He remarked, that some people are appalled that they actually reenact the event on Christmas, the actual day it took place. Typically, 12,000 people attend this yearly event. General Washington offered us a tip. The second week of December there is a dress rehearsal doing the same exact thing that is done on December 25 and the crowd is far less in numbers, only a mere 3,000 people and he did caution, if you were to come on either of these days, just because it begins at 1pm, you should still arrive earlier. The spectators begin to congregate around 10:30am to get into a good viewing area. We soon parted ways without much pageantry and I wished the general a good evening and a good crossing and he in turn wished us a good evening and a good holiday.
I guess the moral of my story is treat everyone you meet on the street with respect. You never know who you are talking to and they may be on their way to making history. I felt deeply fortunate to be walking along with such greatness even if it were 245 years later. History is history no matter when you witness it.
God Bless America.