The Merritt Memorial

Phil Choi

Located in Cresskill, New Jersey at the intersection of Madison Avenue and Knickerbocker Road, the Merritt Memorial is a 66-foot tall obelisk, constructed of stony creek granite that represents the major embarkation camp for American soldiers being sent overseas to fight in World War I.

Living in Cresskill for 12 years, I just saw the Merritt Memorial as a monument that honored the American soldiers. However, as I studied the history of the Merritt Memorial, I was proud by the fact how our country, the United States, depicted the true meaning of democracy that was practiced in Camp Merritt.

For instance, when the camp was to be constructed, the United States politely asked for the privilege of taking over the Cresskill residents’ land to build the embarkation camp. Instead of being a nuisance, many Cresskill residents’, being asked to abandon their home to start a new life somewhere else, graciously gave up their land to the military.

The fact that the United States government asked for the permission of the residents depicts the idea of democracy, in which governing power is derived from the people.

Not only should the Merritt Memorial should be looked upon as a monument that commemorates American soldiers, but also a monument that represents the main identity of the United States: a country that is ruled by the people.


About urba0090

is an ACLS New Faculty Fellow in the American Studies and History departments at Rutgers University.
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