Patriots' Day 2008
Today in Massachusetts, we celebrate Patriots' Day which is officially on April 19th. Of course, since we do love a three-day weekend, it is now on the third Monday of April.
Patriots' Day commemorates the Battle of Lexington, which occurred on April 19, 1775, the day after Paul Revere's Ride.
I'm going from memory here, but in ye olde days, Massachusetts school kids had to memorize the Longfellow poem about said ride:
Listen, my children, and you shall here
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere
Twas the 18th of April in seventy-five
And barely a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year
He said to his friends,
If the British march
By land or sea
From the town tonight,
Hang a lantern aloft
In the belfry tower
Of the old North Church
As a signal light
One if by land, two if by sea,
And I on the opposite shore shall be
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm
For the country folk to be up and at arm.
I have always rather enjoyed Patriots' Day.
When I was a kid, it meant the week we got off for spring vacation. Yippee!
The Red Sox play in the morning - and you actually used to be able to get tickets to go and see the game. But that was before everything became such a big deal.
Getting Red Sox tickets is a big deal. This didn't used to be the case. But it's still fun to have a ball-game reason to turn on the TV in the morning.
The Boston Marathon, which is run on Patriots' Day, has also become a very big deal. This didn't used to be the case. It used to be this interesting race that everyone would drift out to watch some part of - mostly to root on Johnny Kelly, a runner who "did" Boston pretty much every year, well up into his eighties.
Now Johnny Kelly is dead, and The Marathon is an awful lot of hoopla. I still, however, do enjoy seeing the late-finishing runners, staggering around the neighborhood wrapped in the disposable mylar (?) blankets they're handed at the finish line to ward off hypothermia. The runners look like baked potatoes, but you gotta give someone who runs all that way some credit.
Those countrymen that Paul Revere (and the mostly forgotten William Dawes) called to arms?
They made their stands at Lexington and Concord, and if you make your way out there you can see where those first battles of the Revolutionary War were fought.
At Concord Bridge, Emerson's Concord Hymn - another poem I had to memorize in the way-back - is inscribed on the monument.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flags to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
Alas, I suspect that more tourists in Boston make a "must see" of the Cheers Bar than make their way to Lexington and Concord.
Happy Patriots' Day to one and all.