Friday, April 18, 2008
Runners and marchers share Patriots Day
by Ellen Miller
If you are a runner, if you are cheering for a runner, if you enjoy debating which runner from which country will cross the finish line first, then next Monday is, for you, Marathon Monday.
If you are a New Englander who loves history, who thrills to the sounds of the fife and drum and whose patriotism is stirred by the retelling of heroic deeds, then next Monday is, for you, Patriots Day.
Of course, April 21 this year marks both Patriots Day and the 112th running of the Boston Marathon. In 1969, the third Monday in April was declared a public holiday for residents of Massachusetts and Maine in observance of Patriots Day. The first Boston Marathon was run on Patriots Day, April 19, 1897, and continued to be held on that date until 1968 (unless the 19th fell on a Sunday, when both the Marathon and Patriots Day were held on the following Monday). When the official holiday was moved to the third Monday in April, the Marathon moved as well.
Patriots Day commemorates the start of the Revolutionary War – April 19, 1775. On that historic day, 16 Minutemen from Carlisle responded to the alarm that the British were advancing on Concord. The Carlisle contingent marched to Concord on the Estabrook Trail, arriving at North Bridge to join other Minutemen and military men in battle against the British soldiers. Local patriots from neighboring towns, although greatly outnumbered by the “well-appointed” British troops, soon sent the enemy retreating to Boston.
With the media spotlight obsessively focused on the Marathon, the significance of Patriots Day seems diminished, especially in towns between Hopkinton and Boston. But in Carlisle, Concord, Lexington and Bedford, the dawning of the Revolutionary War remains a signature historical event, a uniquely American holiday. Re-enactments of battles in Lexington (“the shot heard round the world”) and Concord are scheduled tomorrow, April 19, and teach us anew the lessons of the war for independence.
On Monday, our present-day Carlisle Minutemen, joined by enthusiastic townspeople, march through Estabrook Woods and join the Patriots Day parade in Concord (the schedule of events appears on page 16). Last year’s Patriots Day celebration was cancelled when “a storm of epic proportions,” according to one meteorologist, pummeled the region. The Marathon was almost cancelled, but organizers decided to hold the race despite the horrific weather. This year’s Patriots Day events should be especially sweet after last year’s washout.
So we’ll come out on Monday to support the Minutemen, fly our flags and celebrate our American democracy. And we will remember the rebels who fought for freedom 233 years ago.
And so it begins
The plane twisted and banked as it wended its way down the Potomac on an approach to Washington National Airport. There was not an empty seat on the plane. It was school vacation week and families in New England with school-age children just naturally migrate to the D.C. area during April vacation.
The previous week our daughter, Jennifer had asked, “What are we going to do on my vacation?”
“It’s a good time to get busy on yard work,” her father had replied.
“Daaad,” Jennifer wailed. “I need to start looking at colleges.”
Hurrying out of the airport, we crossed the street, climbed the stairs and hopped the metro into D.C. It was about 10:30 a.m. when we arrived at George Washington University. We walked all around the campus savoring the atmosphere, peering into classrooms and observing the students. The school grounds are very pleasant, with areas of green grass, benches, flowering shrubs and flowers. Walking down to the mall area, we visited the Vietnam War Memorial, said “hello” to Abe Lincoln and read his Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address carved in the wall of the Lincoln Memorial. The mall was quiet of protestors, but hundreds of school children milled around in the warm spring weather. After lunch at Union Station, we visited American University’s campus and soccer fields with their flowering trees and green grass.
Now it was on to Virginia. Driving south on I-95 in our rented car, we took in the splendor of a Virginia spring. The trees were leafed out and there were beautiful flowering shrubs, flowers and trees. Virginia must be the dogwood state as that flowering tree is all along the roadway as the mountain laurel is in Connecticut. Now I know why the Virginia colleges suggest you visit on spring vacation. This had to be one of the most beautiful places in the world that week.
The computer at the CCHS resource center had provided Jenn with a list of colleges both large and small that offer women’s soccer along with a good academic reputation. The larger schools participate in Division 1 soccer. They will recruit girls and may offer a scholarship. Each girl is committed to 12 months of soccer. The smaller schools are Division 2 or 3 soccer. They do not offer scholarships and may or may not recruit and allow girls to participate in different activities and sports outside of a soccer season.
We spent the night at a delightful inn in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Fredericksburg reminded us of a larger, southern Concord. We liked the town. Mary Washington College is located here in stately brick buildings amid sprawling trees, studded green lawns and brick paths.
The next morning, we joined an information session and tour at Mary Washington. We checked out the soccer and lacrosse fields and talked to the coaches, students and other parents in our group. I looked at this youngest child of mine as we listened to one of the deans. “She’s a top athlete and takes after Grandfather Guyer in her musical ability,” I thought. “She’s not the student her brother is, but she’ll do all right. She has no identity problems and knows her own mind and who she is. Her grandfather also gave her strength of character. The strength of her moral values has been an inspiration to me in helping me voice my beliefs.”
Less than 48 hours later, we were winging our way back home. As the plane took off, I looked down on Arlington National Cemetery. Turning to my daughter, I questioned, “Well, Jenn, what did you think of the colleges? Did you get any strong feelings on any of them?”
“First, I’d like to see some more schools in Virginia. Maybe next week we can take a trip to New York State and then a trip to New York City. Then there are some schools in California I’d like to look at . . .”
© 2008 The