edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
The Battle of Lexington and Concord occurred two hundred forty years ago today. In previous years, I've briefly discussed the battle from the viewpoint of today. This year, though, I thought I'd provide the view of some of the eyewitnesses.

Shortly after the battle, the Massachusetts Congress appointed a committee to collect testimony regarding the conduct of the British regulars. A copy of their report was sent to the Continental Congress, and reprinted in the Journals of the Continental Congress for May 11, 1775.
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And that was the news, two hundred and forty years ago.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Today is the 239th anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. I've written about the battle several times over the years, often quoting the first verse of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "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.
A couple of years ago, we'd had a very dry winter, and the Concord River was remarkably low when I went to visit the bridge on April 19. This year? Well, we had plenty of snow (just look at this year's weather entries), and so there's plenty of flood for the rude bridge to arch.

(I'll post pictures once I find the right adapter for my camera.)
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
I have made it my custom to post some small bit of commentary every 19th of April, marking the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. I've told the story of the "Concord Fight" several times now, occasionally quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous "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.
Today, on this two hundred thirty-seventh anniversary of the "shot heard 'round the world", the latest incarnation of the Old North Bridge still spans the Concord River - but there's not much in the way of flood for it to arch. We had abnormally low snowfall last winter and have had an exceptionally warm and dry spring. This keeps the rivers in their banks, but has made for a lot more brush fires than usual.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Today, as I've made it a habit of noting, is Patriots Day. It was two hundred thirty six years ago today that a band of Massachusetts militia drove a column of crack British light infantry and grenadiers from the North Bridge in Concord all the way back to Boston, igniting the American Revolution. Alas, only two states in the US - Massachusetts and Maine (which, in 1775, was part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony) - treat Patriots Day as a public holiday (now celebrated on the third Monday in April, in accordance with the modern fashion for Monday holidays).

There were a couple of amusing[1] things I noticed today. One is that today is also supposedly the day that Skynet becomes self-aware, to be shortly followed by a nuclear holocaust and a horde of Terminator robots. I think it's the Judgement Day of the TV show variant of the Terminator franchise, rather than any of the movies, but hey, any excuse for really bright fireworks, right?

The other amusing thing came from taking a peek at RedState.com to see how they'd handle the anniversary of the start of the American Revolution. Apparently, that stalwart bastion of conservative Amurrican patriotism is handling the anniversary by ignoring it; I can't see anything relating to the battle on their main page, and a Google search for "patriots day" turns up a grand total of seven hits, none of which are dated 2011. Meanwhile, that vile cesspit of America-hating liberalism, the Great Orange Satan, dailykos.com, has "about 393" hits for the same search. Hmmm ...

Feel free to try the searches for yourself at the following handy URLs:

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22patriots+day%22+site%3Aredstate.com

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22patriots+day%22+site%3Adailykos.com

[1] For certain values of "amusing", that is.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
The GOP/Tea Party "shut it down!" crowd haven't shut down the Federal Government (yet). But they have managed to force the cancellation of ...

... a ceremony marking the first battle of the Revolutionary War.

As reported on boston.com:
In a shot that may be heard 'round the nation, Concord officials canceled tomorrow's kickoff Patriots Day event marking the dawn of the American Revolution because of the looming threat of a federal government shutdown.

At Meriam's Corner, members of the Concord Independent Battery planned to fire their cannon at 1 p.m. tomorrow while the area's Minute Man companies marked the fighting that pushed the British regulars back to Boston on April 19, 1775.

But the exercise — which kicks off a raft of Patriots Day events this month — was called off because it would have taken place at the Minute Man National Historical Park, which will close if a federal shutdown takes place at midnight tonight.

[ ... ]

"The Meriam's Corner event really is the kickoff for our Patriots Day observances," Sideris said. "We have done an awful lot of restoration around the Battle Road, which refers to the path the British had to follow as they fought all the way back to Boston Harbor – 16 miles and all along the way the colonists were firing on them."
The event is cancelled regardless of whether or not the government shuts down tonight, because the organizers couldn't get permits from the National Park Service. Minute Man National Historical Park contains many of the battle sites, including the North Bridge, Meriam's Corner and the Bloody Angle, and a Federal shutdown means all of them will be closed to the public.

Scuppering Patriots Day ceremonies because you're not getting your way on Planned Parenthood funding? Yeah, that's real damn patriotic. </sarcasm>
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
I've made it a practice of posting some sort of commentary every year on this 19th day of April. It is the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, where "the shot heard 'round the world" marked the start of the American Revolution.

The colonials' primary grievance with the British government had little to do with the amounts they were being taxed and everything to do with the lack of Parliamentary representation they were allowed. Today, when various self-proclaimed "patriots" and "tea-partiers" whine about how the Obama Administration is "destroying the fabric of the nation", I'm reminded of this image from the aftermath of the 2000 Presidential campaign:

edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Thus begins Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous "Concord Hymn", written for the dedication of an obelisk memorializing the Battle of Lexington and Concord. That memorial still stands at the Old North Bridge in Concord, part of the Minute Man National Historic Park.

Today, two hundred thirty four years later, I stopped by the Old North Bridge site again - an advantage of living in literally the next town over. The Concord River was again in full springtime flood, and a chilly April breeze was blowing. The local parade, though, will wait for tomorrow - the official state holiday has been moved to the third Monday of April, as a concession for those who like three-day weekends.

Last year at this time, I noted the unpleasant fact that all my Patriots Day postings to date had been with George W. Bush as President. This year, such is no longer the case. And, happily, it didn't take a shooting war to get rid of George III of America; just a bunch of people looking for change and hope, exercising the franchise that those long-ago "embattled farmers" fought to retain.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
It's become my custom to post something on Patriots Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. The King of England, King George III, while very interested in maximizing royal power and prerogatives, wasn't particularly interested in listening to anyone who would tell him that the American colonists really were serious about their grievances. Instead, he placed a top soldier, General Sir Thomas Gage, in charge of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and eventually ordered Gage to eliminate the military stores being built up by local civic leaders. (By the nature of local society, those leaders also tended to be officers in the local militia companies.) Gage ordered elite elements of his forces occupying Boston to march overnight to Concord to capture suspected arms caches. Early in the morning of April 19th, the British column reached Concord (having skirmished briefly with a vastly outnumbered militia company in Lexington), only to find that the arms caches were mostly barren and the countryside was rising against them. Ralph Waldo Emerson famously called the fighting at the Old North Bridge "the shot heard 'round the world", as the Massachusetts militia companies drove the cream of the British Army all the way back to Boston.

I joined LiveJournal in 2004; thus, every single one of my Patriots Day posts to date has been with George W. Bush as President (the third US President to be named George, please note). President George III, while very interested in maximizing executive power and prerogatives, hasn't been particularly interested in listening to anyone who might tell him that the insurgents in Iraq might be serious about wanting the US out of their territory. That sign of hope I mentioned in the subject? I'm reasonably certain that, whatever else may happen, next year's Patriots Day post will not feature George III as our head of state.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
For the last couple of years, I've made it a point to commemorate the true Patriots Day - April 19 - with a brief LJ rumination. (The opening lines of Longfellow's famous poem, Paul Revere's Ride, fool many people into thinking the battle was the 18th.) Most of this year's celebrations were rained out by this week's ferocious storm, although some of the hardier Minuteman reenactor companies did hold local ceremonies.

History has shown that it is possible to force a form of government upon a nation against the peoples' will - the Soviets did a rather effective job of it for several decades in Eastern Europe - but it takes a lot of military force and a willingness to use said force ruthlessly. George III of England never was willing to mobilize the whole of England to retain the American colonies - realistically, I'm not sure he could have even if he'd really wanted to, as many of the Whigs in England supported the ideals that the colonists were fighting for.

An intelligent modern political leader could stand to learn a thing or two from the mistakes George III made ...
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Two hundred thirty years ago, the commander of an occupation force decided to take action against the local insurgents. He ordered select units to secretly march on a nearby town and seize the military supplies stockpiled there. The locals, however, were keeping close watch on his troops and quickly spread the word throughout the countryside. Despite winning a brief skirmish and capturing some of the insurgents' messengers enroute, the main column found that all surprise was lost by the time it reached its target. Very little in the way of weaponry was found, the troops had almost nothing in the way of supplies, and the insurgents' forces were continually growing stronger as more and more locals rushed to the scene. The main column retreated under increasingly heavy fire back to their headquarters; had they not been reinforced along the way, they likely would have been routed.

The date was April 19, 1775. The commander was Sir Thomas Gage, a Lieutenant General in the British Army and a veteran of Fontenoy, Culloden, Flanders, and Montreal (amongst other campaigns). The targeted town was Concord, Massachusetts. The ensuing war became popularly known as the American Revolution.

Several decades later, Ralph Waldo Emerson would write these words:
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.

Nowadays, so-called "conservatives" claim the mantle of patriotism as their own, and denigrate "blue states" like Massachusetts as unpatriotic if not actually disloyal to America. How quickly, and conveniently, they forget the truth.

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edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Edmund Schweppe

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