Today is April 18, Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts and an official state holiday. If you come from other parts of the country you might scratch your head and wonder why we have such a strange idea of a local holiday. I am sure we are not alone, and there must be lots of states that have something to celebrate that is unique and local instead of national.
For many out of towners, just knowing the today is also marks the running of the Boston Marathon (110th and counting), just knowing about the race and the 10,000+ bodies clogging the road from Hopkinton to Boston might be reason enough for shutting things down. The Red Sox play the Mariners at 11 AM and the marathon route goes right past Fenway Park and you can always count on a great ovation when they announce the first runners passing by.
However, the real reason for Patriots Day is to commemorate the battles of Lexington and Concord back in 1775 and “the shot heard ’round the world” – for most people the beginning of the American Revolution. It was the moment when Enlightenment philosophy met gun powder and cold steel. In a set piece on Lexington Green then later at Concord’s North Bridge and on a 22 mile trek back to Boston (Battle Road on land owned by the Park Service) colonials engaged the British in what would later be termed guerilla warfare.
From the vantage point of the 21st century it is hard to imagine farmers fighting the most powerful empire in history, each armed with early muzzle loading rifles, but it’s all there in the re-enactments. Now and then it’s good to take stock of all that.