Freedom Fighters ©

4th of July

A Story by Will Jones

 By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

~ From “The Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

On April 19, 1775, 500 militia and minutemen defeated 700 regular British troops at the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. Forty-nine Americans and seventy-three British soldiers died, and the Americans harassed the British along the Battle Road all the way back to Charlestown. So began the American Revolution and the eventual establishment of one of the world’s greatest democracies.

On May 17th of this year, during a trip to Boston to visit my son, my daughter-in-law, and our three-month-old granddaughter, my wife and I walked part of the Battle Road between Lexington and Concord and spent over an hour at the area around North Bridge in Minuteman Park.  Although I grew up in Philadelphia and visited its historic sites, including Valley Forge, many times, never before did I feel the powerful spirit of the Revolution that I felt on the battlefield of Concord. Never before did I fully understand the great gift those brave men gave us on that unforgettable day two-hundred-and-thirty-six years ago.

Maybe it was because my granddaughter was with me, or maybe because it was a pristinely beautiful spring day, but I was completely alive to the heroics that took place on that field, able almost to see the troops, hear the shouts and musket fire, and smell the smoke rising from the hollow along the Concord River.  It seemed miraculous to me that the farmers who took up arms to defend their freedom were willing to sacrifice their lives for it, as if they somehow knew the historic importance of what they were doing.

America is not right now experiencing one of its greatest eras, and it is easy to become cynical and pessimistic about the future. But on this 4th of July, I am going to remember the feeling I had at Concord, the pride I felt in being an American, and the debt of gratitude I owe to the nameless heroes who fought for the freedom my family enjoys today.

 photo by Will Jones

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4 Responses to Freedom Fighters ©

  1. Malati Marlene Shinazy

    Thanks, Will — We can all be thankful for the sacrifices made during that and subsequent battles of the American Revolution. That 5,000 African and African American men, slaves and free, also fought shows the strength of the original vision. This vision may be dimmed at the moment… I continue to believe this vision can be reignited by… us. –mms

    • Will Jones

      I thought about the immediacy of fighting, essentially, in one’s own backyard and then how it must have been for the wives and children of the men who died that day. In some cases it happened right before their eyes.

  2. I love fireworks and on the 4th of July I can always find a good show.
    But, what I forget is how lucky I am to have the freedom to go anywhere I want to see a fireworks display.
    This story reminded me why the 4th of July is greater than a day off work and the canon fire is for my entertainment – I’m grateful.
    ~ shinazy

    • Will Jones

      The lovely bookend to this story is that my Boston family will arrive in San Luis Obispo on Saturday. My granddaughter inspires me and makes me want to work hard for a good future for her and my grandchildren still to come!