April 19th, 1775
Unless you live in Massachusetts, you might not have heard of Patriot's Day.
When I was a child growing up in historic Lexington, MA, I thought that Patriot's Day was a national holiday. We certainly celebrated like it was! I was surprised to discover when I grew up and left the state for college, graduate school, then work, that no one had heard of it.
My birthday is two days before Patriot's Day and when I told people that to help them remember it, they'd say, "It's two days before what?"
I'm told that there's a new remembrance day being created for 9/11 which is officially called Patriot Day and that's not what I'm talking about here. This is the original. The day commemorating the very first battle of the Revolutionary War, which made America possible.
[Photo from Â©iStockphoto.com/Julia, http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/patriots-da...]
The Historic Story
The Battle of Lexington and Concord
For the rest of the country, this is one battle, but for those of us in Lexington and Concord, it is two separate events. There's disagreement about which was the first *battle.* Lexington claims that they had the first battle, while Concord says that was just a skirmish and the real battle was fought there.
On April 18th, Paul Revere and William Dawes took different routes to warn Lexington and the surrounding area that the British were on their way. The "Minutemen" (so called because they were volunteers who just lived in the area and were supposed to be able to be ready to fight in a minute's notice) waited most of that night and were already exhausted when the British marched in early in the morning of April 19th.
The skirmish there was brief. The Minutemen were no match for the soldiers and many ran. However, it was when the British continued their march towards Concord that revolutionaries sniped at them from the bushes along the way, and they are often credited with changing the face of western warfare forever.
In Concord the British were defeated and the soon-to-be-Americans had their first victory.
[Get lots more info and details at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battles_of_Lexington_...]
How We Celebrate
In Massachusetts, schools and many workplaces are closed the Monday following April 19th.
Every year in Lexington, there is a reenactment of that very first battle. People gather in the very early hours before dawn, many carrying ladders. You'll have to park several blocks away from the town center and walk in with the crowds. Everyone gathers around the battle green, an area in the center of town. At the appointed hour, the Redcoats come marching in, the Minutemen stumble from the local tavern and the sound of a shot is projected by loudspeaker because no one knows to this day which side fired the first shot.
Once the Minutemen are defeated, the Boy Scouts host a pancake breakfast in a church hall and later in the day there's a parade.
[Image from http://www.boston-discovery-guide.com]
The Boston Marathon
Something else that happens every Patriot's Day is the Boston Marathon! It's often chilly in April in Massachusetts, but hundreds of people gather anyway to run or to watch.
Kid's Books about the Revolutionary War - Help your kids learn more about history!
No, not *that* Lexington
When I went to college and told people I was from Lexington, they would inevitably say, "Oh, Kentucky?"
I got used to saying, "No, the Lexington that should be famous! The place where we took the first step towards becoming our own country."
Videos about the Revolutionary War
The Boston Accent - Have you ever wanted to immitate a Boston accent?
I hear people trying the "Pahk the Cah in Hahvad Yahd" statement, but they usually do it poorly! The Boston accent is a tricky one to get right :)