Thursday, Sep 24, 2009
On Sunday, September 20th, Minute Man National Historical Park celebrated its 50th anniversary with a gala celebration and a salute to its broad and diverse community of partners and colleagues. Among the celebrants were members of the boards of selectmen and citizens of the towns within which the park is located.
An exciting opening ceremony included Minute Man companies from the three towns – Concord, Lincoln and Lexington – as well as His Majesty’s 10th Regiment of Foot and the First Squadron, 182nd Cavalry, Massachusetts Army National Guard, who are descended from the Middlesex militia who fought on the first day of the American Revolution.
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas spoke about the meaning and significance of the park and highlighted the recent addition of Colonel James Barrett’s house and farm to within the park's boundaries. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin, the evening’s keynote speaker, recounted how visiting the "real places" preserved by the National Park Service inspired her career as a historian. The spirit of 1775 was vividly recalled in musical performance by Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drums and a dance demonstration by the park's resplendent 18th century re-enactor community.
The following day, on the park’s actual 50th anniversary of September 21st, a rededication ceremony was held outdoors by the North Bridge, site of “the shot heard round the world.” The ceremony emphasized the park’s anniversary theme, “Honoring the Past; Inspiring the Future” with an emphasis on the future, as embodied in our renewed commitment to educational programming and youth engagement.
Northeast Regional Director Dennis Reidenbach addressed the audience, which included over 150 school children, and highlighted the significant role national parks can play in stimulating young people to appreciate American history and heritage. Liz Putnam, founder of the Student Conservation Association, highlighted student involvement in and contributions to our national parks. “Paul Revere,” as portrayed by park volunteer Bob Allegretto, galloped his horse over the bridge and passed a lantern to a selected student to symbolize passing the ideals of liberty, democracy and citizen responsibility into the future.