In Concord, Mass, where we live, Patriots Day dawns with Samuel Prescott crossing the Old North Bridge on horseback to announce that the British are coming. Since early in the morning minutemen from neighboring towns, Acton, Bedford, Carlisle, Lincoln, and so on, have been walking towards Concord to join the Concord minutemen and British soldiers in a parade and ceremony. Even today the well-equipped and well-dressed British are in stark contrast to the small bands of minutemen in their 1770’s farm clothes.
It’s still amazing to think about. Groups of early Americans, minutemen, from different communities, individually choosing to leave home and family, standing together to fight against a professional army of unknown strength, battling tyranny and protecting their freedom. How must the Concord minutemen have felt as the saw the minutemen from the other communities, walking down the road to join them in the battle?
For many of us in Concord, the parade wraps up at a great time to make it to the Boston Marathon, especially when we have close friends or family running (my brother-in-law John had a fantastic run yesterday – congrats!). To be a part of the Marathon as a fan or participant, you understand that it is not about winning. It is a community event about human accomplishment, about a great city, and about coming together for a day to share and remember these things.
Of course, yesterday suddenly became bigger than Boston. We were all shocked by the unthinkable evil and the human devastation. We were despairing over the threat to our way of life by a foe of unknown capabilities.
But quickly, the America we’d celebrated earlier in the day began to show itself through the fog. People running towards the blast to help the wounded without thought for themselves. Emergency response and hospital personnel doing the amazing things that they do, tirelessly and without complaint. Bostonians helping out runners they’d never met, who hadn’t finished, and were separated from their belongings and families. Emails, tweets and calls from across the country: “Are you guys alright?” “We’re thinking of you” “We’re praying for Boston”.
Just as in 1775, the minutemen arrived, some from near by, and others from far away. And once again it started to feel possible to move forward, to take up the battle for what we, as Americans, stand for.
Our family had a fortunate day yesterday. My wife and I and two of our kids, along with a good number of my in-laws were down around the finish line for the early part of the afternoon. As I said, John had a great race, and we all headed our separate ways a little more than an hour before the explosions. My daughter was the closest, in Kenmore Square, and we were lucky to be able to quickly establish that she was all right.
May God bless everyone impacted here in Boston and beyond.