Patriots Day The shot heard 'round the world continues to reverbate. Each April, Massachusetts and Maine celebrate Patriots Day in honor of the battles and skirmishes that began our fight for independence. This year, Patriots Day is April 20 - except in Concord, where they'll celebrate it on the real day: April 19. Yes, they take their Patriots Day seriously in Concord. On Patriots Day, troops of Minutemen assemble at dawn in Concord and surrounding towns to recreate the "line of march" to the Old North Bridge, Emerson's "rude bridge," where they face off in a gunbattle with a troop of Redcoats. Guess which side always wins? Take a virtual trip over to Concord for an online roundup of the day's events. You can learn more about the history of the battles of Lexington and Concord thanks to the Military Science department at Worcester Polytechnic, or see what there is to do in Minute Man National Historical Park. Of course, the battle did not just happen in a vacuum - friction between the colonies and England had been building for years. By 1775, Boston was a hotbed of radical agitation - remember the Boston Tea Party. Today, the city maintains the Freedom Trail to guide visitors around the city's Revolutionary hot spots. Virtually Boston offers the Online Freedom Trail to show you what you'll see when you come to town, as well as a series of articles on the events leading up to April 19. Some of the sites on the trail are part of the Boston National Historical Park. Technically, the events commemorated on April 19 or thereabouts actually started the night before, around 10 p.m., to be exact. That's when that famous light was set in Boston's Old North Church to signal to Paul Revere and others that the British were on the move to capture an arms cache in Concord, some 15 miles to the west. At the center of much of the mythology surrounding Patriots Day, of course, is Paul Revere. Revere was immortalized by Longfellow's poem (you know: "Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere ..."), not to mention a Grant Wood painting. And never mind that much of the poem is simply inaccurate (see also this page for more on that) or that Revere was actually only one of several riders that night (in fact, the British captured Revere early on, leaving it to William Dawes and Samuel Prescott to get to Concord). For despite all this, Revere was a fascinating man, well worth the attention of historians. Not only did he live in Boston's oldest house, he was an accomplished silversmith. In 1779, he was court-martialed for his action (or inaction) in a disastrous naval battle in Maine. And he was also an artist and poet. In fact, given the inaccuracies in Longfellow's poem, it is ironic that Revere himself perpetuated inaccuracies in a print and poem depicting the Boston Massacre that helped to turn some colonists against the British. In more recent years, another event held on Patriots Day has tended to get more attention than the Revolutionary rembrances. It's a real heartbreaker. The following "Letter to the Editor" came from Dillon's Blue Press. They have ran it several times, and I think it is worth repeating. Besides who doesn't need a new reason to go out and shoot on a nice spring day? By E. James Adkins We don't celebrate the 19th of April anymore. It was never celebrated in a big monumental way, but we once celebrated that day. "Hardly a man is now alive Who remembers that famous day and year." - so wrote Longfellow in his poem that begins: "listen my children and you shall hear Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere," Revere and others went forth on the night of April 18, 1775 with the alarm, "The redcoats are coming, the redcoats are coming!" They rode all through the night. "It was one by the village clock, When he galloped into Lexington." "It was two by the village clock, When he came to the bridge in Concord town." Why was it so immediately important, on the night of April 18, 1775, for all of the people to know that the "redcoats are coming"? It was the practice in our colonial period for each village to have a "common" or "Village green" that was used for public gatherings. The most significant use of the "common" was as a mustering point and drill field for the village militia, "every able bodied man between the ages of 16 and 60 years." The militia was trained (as they termed it, "disciplined" and "well regulated") in the use of arms, here at the village green. The militia provided protection for individuals and property of the village against all threats. A man would spend some time in the "gaol" if he missed a militia call. The militia, each man, was required to keep and bear his own arms. It was common for the militia to maintain a community armory for the storage of shot, powder, flint, additional small arms and any heavy arms that it might afford. Individuals could draw from these supplies as needed, as well as acquiring their own private supplies. On the night of April 18, 1775, Governor Gage (British Governor of fortress Boston) ordered British "redcoats" to march to the many surrounding villages, to seize and destroy all stores of munitions and to arrest the country leaders, the "arch-conspirators." British major Pitcairn lead the march into the countryside. The prime objective was to still the voice of the people, disarm them and make them more servile. Rebellion must stop, they said. So, Revere took to horse to give the alarm: "To arms, to arms, the redcoats are coming!" Early on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, major Pitcairn's "redcoats" arrived at Lexington and met Captain John Parker's company of colonial militia draqwn-up on the meeting house green. "By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood And fired the shot heard round the world." -so wrote Emerson in 1837. Some colonials were wounded and some were killed. Resistance to the larger British force proved futile. Pitcairn did his duty and then marched on to Concord where he burned the munitions he found. He arrested no patriots and he scored no further triumphs. Pitcairn's return march to Boston became a humiliating rout as our colonial militiamen, Minute-men and individual contrymen harassed the British column form behind stone walls, rocks and trees, every step of the way. The shot heard round the world, the first shot in our fight for independence from King George's slavery, was fired to protect and defend the natural right of men to protect themselves, to keep and bear arms for the purpose of preserving liberty. This right to keep and bear arms was codified on the 15th of December 1791 when it became the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. We don't celebrate the 19th of April anymore. Perhaps we should. "That memory may their deed redeem, When, like our sires, our sons are gone. Spirit, that made those heros dare To die, and leave their children free." - Emerson, 1837 The redcoats are coming! A Visitor from the Past.... I had a dream the other night, I didn't understand. A figure walking through the mist, with flintlock in his hand. His clothes were torn and dirty, as he stood there by the bed, he took off his three-cornered hat, and speaking low, he said: "We fought a revolution, to secure our liberty. We wrote the Constitution, as a shield from tyranny, for future generations, this legacy we gave, In this, the land of the free and the home of the brave." "The freedom we secured for you, we hoped you'd always keep. But tyrants labored endlessly, while your parents were asleep. Your freedom gone, your courage lost, you're no more than a slave, in this, the land of the free and the home of the brave." "You buy permits to travel, and permits to own a gun, permits to start a business, or to build a place for one. On land that you believe you own, you pay a yearly rent, although you have no voice in choosing how the money's spent." "Your children must attend a school that doesn't educate. Your Christian values can't be taught, according to the state. You read about the current news, in a regulated press. You pay a tax you do not owe, to please the I.R.S." "Your money is no longer made of silver or of gold. You trade your wealth for paper, so your life can be controlled. You pay for crimes that make our nation turn from God in shame. You've taken Satan's number, as you've traded in your name." "You've given government control to those who do you harm, so they can padlock churches, and steal the family farm, and keep the country deep in debt, put men of God in jail, harass your fellow countrymen, while corrupted courts prevail." "Your public servants don't uphold the solemn oath they've sworn. Your daughters visit doctors so their children won't be born. Your leaders ship artillery and guns to foreign shores, and send your sons to slaughter, fighting other people's wars." "Can you regain freedom for which we fought and died? Or don't you have the courage or the faith to stand with pride? Are there no more values for which you'll fight to save? Or do you wish your children to live in fear and be a slave?" "Sons of the Republic, arise and take a stand! Defend the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land! Preserve our great republic and each God-given right, And pray to God to keep the torch of freedom burning bright!" As I awoke he vanished, in the mist from which he came. His words were true, we are not free. We have ourselves to blame. For even now as tyrants trample each God-given right, we only watch and tremble, too afraid to stand and fight. If he stood by your bedside, in a dream while you're asleep, and wondered what remains of our rights he fought to keep, what would be your answer, if he called out from the grave? Is this still the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave? Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Or allow it to be repeated. God bless all who have lost thier lives or thier freedom in this continuing revolution.