If you’re wondering what “Patriots’ Day” is, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s another holiday that only seems to be celebrated in Massachusetts (and after some research as well as in Maine and Wisconsin for some reason.) It’s also the date of the Boston Marathon. They sure do know how to celebrate.
Patriots’ Day is always the third Monday in April and commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord– as in the first battles of the American Revolution. Since I lived in Georgia, and two of my housemates are from Virginia, we were used to battle reenactments, just a different war. They take their Revolutionary history very seriously. The town of Lexington’s mantra is “The Birthplace of American Liberty,” which we couldn’t help quoting and making fun of all day and the week after. The reenactment takes place on the Lexington green in the town square about 6AM. We were warned that people get there early for a good spot, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I couldn’t believe that many people got up at 4AM to stand out in the cold for an hour for 10 minutes of gun shots and men in costumes. It’s not like it changes every year, we all know what’s going to happen…
The British are coming!
But as the announcer explained the events of the morning and the rest of the battle that happened in Concord, and read aloud the names of the men who died- and called them the first American veterans- I began to understand why we keep reliving the history. A group of scared and unsure townspeople were standing up to the greatest “superpower” country of the time, on the very land we were standing on. And it blew us away that we don’t know who fired the first shot.
The American reenactor was a really nice retired history teacher. The Brits had the better costumes.
So we had already relived the birth of America before 7AM. And our day was just starting.
The other YAVs and I headed to Brookline to experience the Boston Marathon and cheer on the runners around mile 24. Boston was traumatized and scared last year after the bombing and this marathon felt like their resurrection. (Quite appropriately Patriots’ Day fell right after Easter this year.) It was a little weird to experience since we’re weren’t here last year and watched the events unfold from a distance, but we have all admired the strength and community of the city as well as the outpouring of love across the nation. I’ve never seen so many people come together and be so supportive, especially Bostonians. I’ve also never seen so many wearing t-shirts with the same phrase: Boston Strong. It was everywhere, and the town was painted blue and yellow. The city of Boston and all of of the runners, who were adopted by the city for the day, personified endurance and the ability to keep going, mentally, physically, and collectively. It was an honor to witness the love and support, and be able to add my voice to the crowd.
We left exhausted and more than a little sunburned and hoarse, but truly enjoyed celebrating Patriots’ Day in Boston.