The third Monday in April is a special day in Massachusetts. Yes, it should be Marathon Monday but due to COVID-19 that’s been pushed to September 14th. But it still is Patriots’ Day. What exactly is Patriots’ Day? Well, I’m glad you asked because that is the subject of this History Lesson!
Patriots’ Day began in 1894 as a way to commemorate the beginning of the American Revolution. The Battles of Lexington and Concord started on April 19th, 1775: the British marched up to Concord, the night before, with the goal of seizing a weapons cache; Paul Revere rode ahead and told people the British were coming; people got ready and the war started. Vive la révolution or Don’t Tread on Me or something. Anyway, that’s where things kicked off, right here in Massachusetts – the shot heard around the world.
The 38th Governor of Massachusetts Frederic Thomas Greenhalge (fun fact: Governor Greenhalge was born in England in 1842, his family moved to Lowell when his father was offered a job at the Merrimack Manufacturing Company) proclaimed Patriots’ Day a public holiday in 1894.
Three years later in 1897, the first Boston Marathon was run on Patriots’ Day. Until 1969, Patriot’s Day was always celebrated on April 19th but it was moved in 1969 to the third Monday of April to give us all a three-day weekend and to kick-off school vacation week. This year, things might feel a bit different and less celebratory, but it still is important to understand our past and remember the patriots who gave their lives on April 19th, 1775.
Image via Wikipedia: This is a photograph of the statue often incorrectly believed to represent Captain John Parker sculpted by Henry Hudson Kitson and erected in 1900. This statue in Lexington, Massachusetts is commonly called “The Lexington Minuteman” because it was meant to represent the Minutemen generally rather than any individual. There are no known portraits of John Parker made while he was alive. It is often confused with the Daniel Chester French statue The Minute Man in nearby Concord.