First, the best perspective…
When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest
horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid
of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee… – Deuteronomy 20:1
April 19 is recognized as Patriots’ Day in the United States (Patriot Day calls to remembrance the terrorist attacks upon our nation on September 11, 2001). But tomorrow we look back to the start of our War for Independence, honoring those men who bravely stood against the strongest military of their day and “fired the shot heard ’round the world.” Yet I suspect that April 19 is relatively unknown, unrecognized, and therefore almost forgotten today.
Compared with years ago, American History and particularly government and civics classes are not as clearly or as thoroughly taught in public school settings. It’s the same in our colleges and universities. Those who disagree with this premise need only present a few basic questions about US history to public school high school students. Their lack of basic understanding of these matters can be both surprising and disappointing. Sadly, the same is true among many adults of most any age.
It was early in the morning – April 19, 1775. Captain John Parker assembled 75-80 members of the Massachusetts Militia on the green in the heart of the village of Lexington. This in response to the word that had come overnight. British regulars were marching to Concord with the intention of seizing hidden stores of weapons and supplies. They also planned to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams who were considered to be rabble-rousers and trouble-makers.
Most of the men assembled that morning were members of the Church of Christ in Lexington, where Rev. Jonas Clark served as pastor. Rev. Clark’s wife Lucy was a cousin of John Hancock and they were protecting both Hancock and Adams in their home that day. Upon learning of the approach of the British regulars, a dozen men escorted Hancock and Adams away from Lexington. However, the 75-80 members of the militia stood on the green to face the highly trained British who arrived shortly after dawn.
Captain Parker’s instructions to the men under his command:
Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon.
But if they mean to have a war, let it begin here!
When the British came into full view, Captain Parker immediately recognized his men were at serious disadvantage. Various accounts put the strength of the British column at anywhere from 300-800 well-trained and disciplined men. The danger was clear and having served in the French and Indian War, Parker realized the men of his militia would be cut to pieces. Immediately he gave the order to “Disperse… Do not fire!” Major John Pitcairn, in command of the British troops also gave the order: “Soldiers, don’t fire. Keep your ranks! Form and surround them!”
Parker and his men turned and started to leave the green. However, in the confusion of the moment, perhaps someone heard the word “Fire” and a weapon was discharged. (historians disagree to this day as to which side fired first). In the melee that followed, eight men of Parker’s militia lay dead and ten others were wounded. According
to Pastor Clark, the following men were those who gave their lives:
John Brown of Lexington
Samuel Hadley of Lexington
Caleb Harrington of Lexington
Jonathan Harrington, Jr. of Lexington
Robert Munroe of Lexington
Isaac Muzzy of Lexington
Jonas Parker of Lexington
Mr. Porter of Woburn
The British clearly won this opening engagement, but later that same day, Major Pitcairn and his men arrived at Concord Bridge, where they met hundreds of colonists who had gathered in response to the call to arms. There, the American colonists routed the Redcoats and the American Revolution was underway.
Those British colonists of 240 years ago had tried every peaceable means to gain relief from the tyrannical oppression of King George, but to no avail. Over many years, they discovered the truth. Tyranny will never stand down as a result of negotiation. Those who mean to be masters over a people will never willingly relinquish the power that feeds their selfish desire. The only way to defeat tyrants is for loyal patriots to stand strong and unified in opposition to those who seek unreasonable power and control.
Unfortunately, there are many power-hungry politicians in American government today who are seeking to gain unreasonable power over the people. It does not matter if they are Democrats or Republicans. It makes no difference which branch of government in which they ‘serve’ – executive, legislative, or judicial. They ignore the will of the people who – at times – foolishly elected them to office. They enact grievous laws that grant favors and special advantages to big banks and to the rich and powerful. These men and women have chosen
to ignore and to neglect the oath they have taken, “to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States of America.”
Where are the patriots of today? Where are the knowledgeable men and women who understand God-given rights, natural law, and who grasp the principles espoused by the founders of this great nation?
May it never be that we must once again stand upon the green to forcefully retake the liberty that was won so long ago – God forbid! But there must be those who will stand for solid principles, for that which is good, and to defend rightful liberty. As citizens we must be ever on our guard – alert as those great men of long ago. It begins
with essential knowledge of the Constitution and understanding
the foundational principles of liberty.
If we neglect and indeed forget the great moments of history that shaped America’s destiny, then we become weak and soft in our resolve to defend the principles of liberty that our ancestors fought and died to preserve. Their efforts, yea their sacrifice must ever be remembered and appreciated as the blessing and favor of God upon this land. And in spite of the present condition in which our nation finds itself, those great principles are still worth fighting for.