[First posted here on April 7, 2006]
It's Patriot's Day here in Massachusetts, a legal holiday not familiar to many folks outside the Bay State. It commemorates the Lexington-Concord Battle of 1775. Patriot's Day now means the traditional 11 a.m. Red Sox game, the Boston Marathon, and services and re-enactments in many towns which have companies of volunteer Minutemen who dress up in colonial-era garb and march on their town greens. The Lexington-Concord area has the whole bunch of celebrations, including a local company of the British 10th Regiment of Foot, the soldiers who were among the companies that marched to Concord that day. As a kid growing up in Concord, I always wanted to be one of the Redcoats. My illusions were shattered one day when I was walking down by the post office and saw a lanky Redcoat take off his tall tin hat and squeeze himself into a tiny VW parked by the curb.
Today I actually thought twice before putting up anything about Patriot's Day on the bookstore website, because I've found over the years that in other areas of the country most folks have no idea what Patriot's Day is, and now it sounds a bit like a Bush Administration stunt, or something a militia group would come up with. That annoys the crap out of me. The biggest mistake the Liberals made was to let the Conservatives co-opt Patriotism. What's up with that?
Peope who are upset with the way the country is going these days have got to show everyone that Patriotism does not equal unquestioning support of everything this or that political party does. Show people that you can be Patriotic without checking your brains at the door, and that you can fly a flag proudly without disengaging your brain from all critical thought processes. Liberals and Democrats have to fight back. Fly a flag, for crying out loud. I do every day now. Now that we've got a nice wrap-around porch, on the 4th of July we'll put red-white-and-blue bunting on it too.
The co-opting of Patriotism by a single political party is not healthy for the country. It's time to fight back. Wave your flags, boys!
And happy Patriot's Day!
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, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
-Concord Hymn, Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sung at the Completion of the Battle Monument, April 19, 1836