In the midst of one of the greatest crises in American history, a public school in Bergen County, NJ, created a remembrance of another. I took the photo of this marker while walking, on a brilliantly beautiful late-summer afternoon, this weekend in Garfield, on River Road never Columbus Avenue. I found interesting, but all too short, the inscription for Ford Post: “frequently used by both armies during Revolutionary War.”
Subsequently, I confirmed on the Web what I suspected: that the British had pursued the outnumbered, desperate Continental Army across the Passaic River in November 1776. What I hadn’t expected, though, was even more interesting.
According to Howard D. Lanza’s Garfield (2002), public school principal Francis Fuscaldo decided in 1935 to involve his students in a project to commemorate the history that occurred here. The design for the marker was created by Fuscaldo himself, then executed by local artist John Poltorak. The children themselves, however, collected enough pennies to mark the nine-foot-high memorial, whose stones were gathered from the riverbank.
In the midst of the Great Depression, the drive showed what could be done through individual small sacrifices culminating in a large collective action. It was a lesson the schoolchildren and their families would apply in the next two decades, as many would serve halfway around the world, braving bullets in an attempt to extend abroad the freedom hard-won at home, in places such as the Passaic River.