By Capt Mary Harrington, Public Affairs Officer, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published April 02, 2011
Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- One of my favorite family traditions each year is to attend the Lexington Reenactment on Patriots Day - this year on Monday, April 18th. The event for me reflects on the rich history of the National Guard, when on April 19, 1775, Patriots who lived in Lexington, Massachusetts, bravely defended their community against British attack.
During the Reenactment, Paul Revere rushes in on horseback to warn of the British approach, and the citizen soldiers line up on the Lexington Green, prepared to fight. The wives and children watch, as these brave civilians prepare for battle, and an unknown person fires what Ralph Waldo Emerson described as the 'shot heard round the world.'
As a "traditional" member of the National Guard, this event helps me to reflect on my obligation, and give thanks for the tremendous support that I get from my family, friends, full-time employer (SimplexGrinnell) and community. The National Guard is the backbone of the defense of the great United States, and it all started right here.
"Traditional" members of the Guard are people who work full-time jobs as civilians, yet serve in uniform a minimum of one weekend a month and two additional weeks annually to maintain preparedness. We are well trained and ready to augment the full-time forces at a moment's notice. It is such a tremendous honor to serve in uniform as a member of the Massachusetts National Guard - where it all began.
On that day, 236 years ago, Capt. John Parker led 77 Patriots; they were grossly outnumbered, but bravely faced about 700 British. The British officer yelled, "Lay down your arms, you damned rebels..." and the rest is history. The Americans suffered eight wounded and 10 killed - including John Brown, Samuel Hadley, Caleb Harrington, Jonathon Harrington, Jr., Robert Munroe, Isaac Muzzey, Asahel Porter and Jonas Parker. The British suffered one wounded.
Of course, I've always felt a connection to the many Harringtons who fought on the Lexington Green. Nine Harringtons were in the line-up and two died, including Jonathan Jr. and Caleb. Jonathan crawled to his house, located on the corner of the common. He made it to his front porch and died there, at the feet of his wife. Caleb headed toward the Harrington house and died enroute. The other Harringtons included Daniel, John, Jonathan (a fifer), Moses (3rd), Moses (Jr.), Thaddeus and Thomas.
At the Reenactment, after the skirmish, Amercian re-enactors go to the Lexington common cemetery, behind the church on the common, where they honor those who died with a 21-gun salute. This is a great opportunity to see the re-enactors up close, as well as an appropriate time to reflect on our many fortunes as citizens of the great United States of America.
If you have not attended the Lexington Reenactment, you may want to put this event on your bucket list. The event always brings tears to my eyes. I started attending as child, with my four brothers and parents, as guests of our cousins who lived in Lexington. As an adult, I bring my two boys, Nicholas and Thomas, and often invite family and friends.
Not many adults like to get up that early, but the kids are always excited. The Reenactment this year is on Monday, April 18, commencing at 0545. To get a decent view, I recommend you arrive an hour (or even two) earlier. Many families bring ladders, so that kids can sit on the rungs, to get a good view. There is much for sale, including coffee, hot cocoa and donuts; three corner hats and muskets; and similar items.
For more information on the Lexington Reenactment, and similar events on Patriots Day, visit www.battleroad.org. There are also several great YouTube videos of event, including http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuPjxrFo0P4.