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 today 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.
Ironically, poets can get away with historical inaccuracies if their words stir hidden passion or pride, and Emerson had the gift. Nevertheless, the “first shot” was fired at Lexington and not at Concord, where a larger skirmish occurred later on April 19, 1775. Yet, in writing his words, which were sung as the hymn at dedication of the Battle Monument on July 4, 1837, Emerson captured the spirit of the historically intense moment.
During the late, late night of April 18th and the early morning hours of the 19th in the Spring of 1775, the cries of danger swept through the Massachusetts countryside from riders like Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Dr. Samuel Prescott, as well as others. In reality, several volunteer riders were utilized to alert their fellow citizens that the British regulars were on the march, and several individual efforts initiated a unique American response to the British military’s harassment of the people.
The Americans had previously made plans and contingencies to collectively act, or react, to British troop movements, and several volunteer riders were ready to spring into action to implement such plans. On the weekend prior to the 18th, Paul Revere had made a plan to use lighted lanterns hung in the tower of the Old North Church as signals to other riders that the British troops would be on the march, and taking a land route or one by water. Revere had not been certain he would be able to leave Boston with a British curfew in effect. However, he was able to slip away in the night and had arranged for compatriots to row him across the Charles River to get a decent head start to Lexington.
Lexington, just up the road from Boston, was the town where the British military had learned that Samuel Adams and John Hancock were located. Both men were wanted by the British government for their rebellious activities in and around the Boston area, and Adams was known to have organized the Boston Tea Party. After nightfall, British General Thomas Gage dispatched a contingent of approximately 700 regulars to arrest Adams and Hancock in Lexington, and to seize a cache of gunpowder, ammunition, and weapons reportedly stored near Concord.A whole cadre of volunteers were utilized to warn Adams and Hancock, warn the rural people, and call the able-bodied to arms. About midnight, William Dawes, who had ridden on a different route, arrived in Lexington shortly after Revere. While Revere and Dawes made it to Lexington, neither of them made it to Concord. Though Prescott rode with the two, all three were captured by a British patrol along the road. Dawes and Prescott got away, but Dawes was thrown by his horse, and eventually only Prescott made it to Concord. Contingency plans proved valuable.
As the cries of alarm spread “through every Middlesex village and farm, for the country folk to be up in arms,” as Longfellow’s words reminded Americans in 1860, ordinary men rose from their sleep, left their beds, and braced themselves to face a formidable foe. Brave boys and men gathered their powder horns and musket and shot and made their way to Lexington Green to wait in the cool April morning, uncertain of what would happen next because it had never happened before. These brave souls had not read a British military manual instructing them that it was futile to resist.
A rag-tag band stood waiting for the dreaded British troops marching methodically toward their objective. Thirty-eight citizens stood their ground, and some may have wondered if they would get back home to their beds that day. Some never made it back home. They stood for freedom, and were willing to sacrifice their lives to be free.
Today, the enemies of freedom are many. There are even bigger enemies than British tyranny looming in the shadows, threatening America. Some may see this enemy as ISIS, some may say it is North Korea, or China. Some may refer to this enemy of freedom as the globalist elite, or the Council of Foreign Relations, or the New World Order. Yet, it may not matter the label or the exact identification of such an enemy because the biggest problem is in acknowledgment of such enemies of freedom. The ultimate question is how many genuine patriots love freedom enough to stand for it now?
Americans have not only inherited First Amendment rights to appreciate them, but also to exercise them. In this time, the alarm needs to be sounded, and Americans need to be awakened. Citizens need to realize that the current mainstream media mantra that permeates American society should be carefully weighed against the self-evident truths that were handed down to this generation from the wisdom of the Founders.
Many good people have been called upon to speak, to write, and to help America hold on to the self-evident truths that Founders fought and spilled their blood to bequeath to their children and to future generations. The brave boys and men at Lexington and Concord took a strong stand for freedom. Another strong stand for freedom is needed now; self-evident truths must be reclaimed for America to remain the Land of the Free. Gone are the days of the “Silent Majority” because if the majority of those who love freedom continue to remain silent, the majority will be silenced.