April 19, 2004

Patriot Day

No, this isn't a post about football.

Today marks the 229th anniversary of an event that gets talked of a bit in primary school (the shot heard round the world) but seldom mentioned afterwards. Most people think of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. Some think back on the murder of civilians by the federal government in Waco, Texas. If the origin of the 19th of April's significance is ever mentioned it's only in passing.

But today marks the day when common citizens with paramilitary arms fired on troops of their own government when said government moved to implement gun control. Let that sink in for a moment: the reason the first shots in the war for American independence were fired were because the citizens of Massachussetts were violently opposed to gun control. )Yes - that Massachussetts!)

Yet most people nowadays think of the 19th as the marker for the day when civilians were murdered by the federal gun police, or the day when those federal gun police along with other federal agents were bombed in their own building.

Have we come so far from our roots in this nation that the sacrifices of the first generation of patriots is a totally foreign concept to us? The militia of Massachussets opened fire on government troops - their own goverment troops - to stop them from implementing gun control. Yet we not only accept gun control we encourage it. Our most prevelant firearms organization calls for the strict enforcement of gun control laws as they exist right now. Our federal budget includes a healthy allowance for the federal gun police as well as prosecutors who specialize in gun control. There are billboards across the country urging people to turn in their nieghbors for violations of gun control laws. & we are arguing about who would disregard our Right to Arms less over the next four years.

Fred of Fred's M-14 Stocks has an article up portraying how the press of today would have covered the events of April 19th, 1775. More recently in 1947 the New York Times berated a group of individuals in Athens Tenessee for taking up arms to ensure a fair election. So I can see that Fred's satire of their reaction to a modern day Lexington would be closer to fact than fiction.

Think about today & what it means. Think about your place in life & compare it with the people who started the shooting war that liberated America. Then think about how we have quietly & without much comment slipped chains on which are far tighter than the ones we sought to free ourselves of in the first place. Think about all the people murdered or abducted & kidnapped by our federal gun police. & then if you can bear it, think of what any of those boys on Concord Green would tell you if they came back to see how the country they paid for with their very blood was fairing.

& remember one other event that occured between 1775 & 2004: on April 19th in the Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw, Poland in 1943 the Nazi's were fought off by the people they were attempting to murder. So don't think if you're not an American this day has no meaning for you.

For more reading please look at the following links:

Patriot's Day

Patriot's Day April 19th

History of April 19th

The Liberty Tree April 19th 1775

& in honor of becoming a cyber-neighbor of one of my favorite conservative California bloggers I offer the following: a tale of why the American war for independence wasn't just a man thing & some poetry for your enjoyment:

Paul Revere's Ride

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Concord Hymn

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.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, are sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heros dare
To die and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Posted by Publicola at April 19, 2004 10:20 PM

Thank you Publicola, that's always been one of my favorite poems and i had most of it memorized when i was in elementary school. i still remember the first stanza by heart.

Posted by: annika at April 21, 2004 01:53 AM


Which poem is one of your favorites?

Posted by: Publicola at April 21, 2004 06:18 AM
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