Last Friday I found myself driving through Lexington to run an errand on my way to work. A stone-grey January day, the Presidential inauguration was just commencing. I passed by the Battle Green in the center of town as I returned. Less than four miles from home, I had never really stopped to wander around. I pulled the car over and parked.
The Revolutionary Monument, 1779
Lexington is normally a busy suburb on a weekday, but by 10am, the rush hour traffic had abated. Maybe it was the impending rain.
On the edge of the Battle Green is a monument to the Militiamen who were killed in the initial volleys of the Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775. The monument was erected in 1799 – long before the Battle Green was established as a national historical landmark.
The Revolutionary Monument, 1779
The Die was cast!!!
The Blood of these Martyr’s, in the cause of God & their Country, was the cement of the Union of these States then colonies & gave the spring to the spirit, firmness, and resolution of their fellow citizens.
More than a monument, this is a modest tomb for the soldiers killed in battle. Their resting place is inside the small fence surrounding the obelisk. A few small coins mark tourist’s visits.
I walked across the park — the only other person sharing the space was a woman walking her dog. She traversed the wintry park without stopping.
A bronze Minuteman statue stands guard at the edge of the park, looking for any threat that might approach from the southeast.
A statue of a Minuteman, Lexington Battle Green
The Minutemen did not know what was to come after their brief skirmish. Their leader, John Parker, died a few short months later. Some of them must have survived to the end of the war, and even to see Washington’s inauguration 14 years later.
Wars are always mile markers in the history of a nation, and regular touchstones for citizens to measure their identities against. The Revolutionary War is the strongest of these, with World War II close behind. One of the most compelling – the Civil War – whose conflict echoes unto this very today – is rarely regarded, and the repercussions of 9/11 are still to be seen. Yet we always look back at the Revolutionary War, an event a now quarter of a millennia in the past – as our guiding star.
What would those Minutemen have thought about the election of 2016, and the inauguration that was taking place at that very moment? That they had founded a nation and established freedom. A later generation would fight against fascism and the far right in an even more epic conflict, and a generation beyond that stood to embrace it once again, spurning the progress made in 242 years. At its best, a manic kleptocracy who will loot the people’s democracy established by the citizens on the Battle Green. At worst – a drastic pivot to fascism that will shift the balance of power in the world, and shred progress that the Greeks could only dream of.
John Parker’s quote, Lexington Battle Green
The inauguration went as planned. At least in theory, it was a swearing in and not a coronation. What next? What next? What’s that? Robert Munroe, Jonas Parker, Samuel Masey, Caleb Harrington, John Brown, Ishael Porter, and John Parker were whispering:
The Die is cast!
Stand your ground!
The Revolutionary Monument and First Parish Church