Officials from federal, county and local government gathered Thursday at the Marconi Hotel to celebrate the rich history of Camp Evans, the newest addition to the list of National Historic Landmarks.
Camp Evans joined the ranks of Mount Vernon, Pearl Harbor and the Apollo Mission Control Center when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recognized the former Army camp as a National Historic Landmark on Wednesday.
The designation, in the works for more than a year, recognizes the important contribution the camp made to the history of the United States. Officials gathered in a short ceremony Thursday afternoon to mark the occasion.
Fred Carl, president of the Camp Evans board of directors and the man chiefly responsible for carrying the Camp Evans torch, did not disguise his enthusiasm for the important designation.
"It is a proud day,'' Carl said during a short speech.
Camp Evans, at Monmouth Boulevard and Marconi Road, has played a significant role in the history of the country through the development of advanced communications and radar systems.
Once a part of Fort Monmouth, Camp Evans housed the World War II Radar Laboratory where radar devices were built and equipment was designed that was used in every major stage of battle by the Allied nations and helped the U.S. win the war. The use of radar developed at Camp Evans has been cited as a major factor in the U.S. victory in World War II.
For the first time in history, radar equipment at Camp Evans demonstrated that it was possible to send a radio wave beyond the bounds of Earth. A radio wave was sent from Camp Evans to the moon and back at the speed of light and this experiment spurred the development of satellite communications and missile guidance systems.
The landmark designation means each site will get a designation letter, a plaque, and technical preservation advice. Camp Evans is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Save America’s Treasures official project.
Last year, the former Army camp received status as a living memorial, endorsed by the State of New Jersey when the legislature passed a bill recognizing the important historical contributions of the camp.
"Camp Evans has been a place for secrets,'' said M. Claire French, Monmouth County Clerk and member of the Camp Evans board of directors. "And now all of those secrets can be told.''
Carl credited U.S. Rep. Christopher H. Smith, who attended Thursday's ceremony, with championing the Camp Evans cause, and forwarding it with the weight of his office.
"It's important to remember history,'' Smith said. "Because it helps us win the future.''
Wall Mayor Jeffrey Foster said that the the township has always been behind Camp Evans "one hundred and ten percent,'' citing several relatives who were connected to the Army camp.
"Almost everybody in town has some kind of connection (to Camp Evans),'' Foster said. "