We stepped back in time for an afternoon.
For history buffs like Papa, he was in his element. Bright sunshine filled the blue skies on that warm, summer day. We parked the car in the asphalt parking lot and left the present behind with our vehicle for just a couple of hours.
This vacation day, filled with tourists and visitors, was unlike a day in April 242 years ago when colonial Americans made a stand right on the place where we stood. Because where we stood at the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts was the place where the shot heard ‘round the world was fired.
At that place, it all began. A fight for freedom. A revolution. A stand against tyranny. The American Revolutionary War had begun.
And it seems only fitting on this Independence Day – this 4th of July – that I post photos I captured during our recent vacation to the area.
As we stood in silence imagining a spring day in 1775 when soldiers of the mighty British army met an armed group of patriot colonists and gunfire rang out, I paused to think. What if those colonists had not been so brave? What if they had simply continued to suffer under the rule of the British Empire yet done nothing? Where would America be?
Again I am reminded that freedom isn’t free. Many lives were shed to ensure liberty. Many willingly gave up so much to fight for independence and many gave their all, including their very lives.
Gazing up at the battle monument in that place by the North Bridge, I remembered proudly my American history and the significance of this place. Sixty-two years after this battle, American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson penned these words in the opening lines of his memorial poem, “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.”
Emerson’s grandfather, a minister who was known as one of the “patriot preachers,” had witnessed the North Bridge incident from his home, the Old Manse, which we also visited. No doubt, the stories young Emerson must have heard from his grandfather made an impact on him when he spent time in Concord as a child and inspired him to write the poem. Emerson eventually moved from Boston to Concord permanently, and we also visited his home there.
On July 4, 1837, at the dedication ceremony for the monument, several Concord townspeople sang the words from Emerson’s poem.
And on this July 4, 2017, I pause to remember why we celebrate this day, thanks to an improbable, resilient group of patriots who unbelievably, against all odds, defeated the British and refused to settle for less than independence.
God bless America!
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” –Ronald Reagan