|Thursday, Apr 21, 2011|
Each year in mid-April, thousands flock to historic Lexington, Concord and Minute Man National Historical Park to celebrate Patriot's Day, a special Massachusetts state holiday commemorating the opening battle of the American Revolutionary War, which took place on April 19, 1775.
“The holiday weekend also marks the start of National Park Week,” said Superintendent Nancy Nelson, “so this is a great time to celebrate our American heritage by attending one of Minute Man’s events during this exciting week.”
On Thursday, April 14th, on a beautiful spring day overlooking the North Bridge, site of the “shot heard round the world,” the park hosted a naturalization ceremony for 50 new United States citizens from 29 different countries. The event began with the stirring sounds of fifes and drums, as Minute Men from local towns came across the bridge with flags flying. This ceremony was part of an expanding partnership between the National Park Service and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services formalized by Director Jarvis and USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas last July. Participants greatly appreciated the significance of the setting and park staff marveled at what a positive experience it was. Minute Man is committed to hosting these ceremonies in the future.
National Park Week kicked off with the “Battle Road” event on Saturday, April 16th. Over 300 colonial militia and British Redcoats brought historic events at North Bridge and along a half mile of restored Battle Road to life for an audience of 7,000. In addition to the military activities, volunteer reenactors at the park’s historic Hartwell Tavern represented daily life in 1775. Domestic arts demonstrations showed how civilian men and women contributed to the cause of American liberty. Demonstrations included food preparation, house cleaning, needlework, laundry, children’s games, and a Revolutionary spinning bee.
On Monday, April 16th, the park hosted Concord’s Patriot’s Day parade. It wound from the town center to the North Bridge, where it stopped for ceremonies with music, muskets and cannon salutes. At the sun’s first light on Tuesday, April 19th, the still of morning was broken by a galloping horse and his rider exclaiming “The Regulars are out!” Muskets and cannon followed in the annual “Dawn Salute.”
The will celebrations culminate with Junior Ranger Day and “Battle Road Heroes” on Saturday, April 23rd. On Junior Ranger Day youngsters are invited to take part in a variety of special programs including "Hat's Off!” in which participants make their own colonial hats and everyone has a “Reader’s Theater” role to play to learn how spinning yarn, tending the garden, feeding the chickens and even shopping all helped to defend liberty. There will also be militia drills to master real battle formations from 1775 with wooden muskets.
For “Battle Road Heroes,” after the battle commemorations and parades, visitors are invited to walk down a candle-lit path to the past and listen to the personal stories of people who lived along the Battle Road on April 19, 1775. Captain William Smith, the Hartwells, drovers, musicians, minute men and His Majesty's soldiers present a special evening of theater and history at the park’s historic Hartwell Tavern. After a week of large-scale events, history will be experienced person to person.