The history of Patriots’ Day takes us back nearly two and a half centuries to April 19, 1775. It was on this day that the Battles of Lexington and Concord were fought and the “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired. Patriots’ Day is an official holiday in Massachusetts, Maine, Wisconsin, and Connecticut. It has been a holiday for over a century in Massachusetts and Maine. It became a holiday in Connecticut in 2018.
The holiday is often associated with the running of the Boston Marathon, a tradition in Massachusetts dating back to 1897, just three years after the creation of Patriots’ Day. (It was previously known as “Fast Day”.) A 2013 article in The Atlantic notes that on that first race, “alongside each runner rode a uniformed militiaman, providing lemons, water, and wet handkerchiefs, as he followed the paths used more than a century before by militia converging on Boston.”
In 2006, the Idaho Legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 46 which proclaimed “April 19 of every year as Patriot’s Day in the state of Idaho in commemoration of the opening events of the American Revolutionary War and the struggle through which the nation passed in its early days to be established as the great land of freedom in which we live today.”
One of the individuals who was instrumental in the establishment of Patriot’s Day in Idaho was Terry Shepard, known to many as “Boise Ben Franklin.” He, along with several former legislators such as Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett, Rep. Phil Hart, Rep. Pete Nielsen, and Sen. Monty Pearce, recognized the significance of the day and its connection to our right to keep and bear arms as recognized by the Second Amendment.
The resolution that was passed even makes note of the fact that “April 19, 1775, marks the date when the Massachusetts towns of Lexington and Concord were marched upon by British regulars in an effort to confiscate the munitions stored there for the local militia.”
In many ways, these celebrated battles which are seen as the initial clashes of America’s War for Independence can also be viewed as an example of American gun owners defending themselves from the attempted confiscation of their arms.
These American Minutemen were prepared to defend themselves thanks in large part to the warnings provided to them by Paul Revere and Samuel Prescott, among others.
Contrary to popular belief, Revere did not warn that “The British are coming,” perhaps because most of these Englishmen considered themselves British. He instead warned that “The Regulars are coming out” referring to the regular army coming out of Boston to search for and seize the arms of the militia.
Most of the militiamen who bled and died that day were not trained soldiers. They were farmers and merchants and tradesmen who risked their lives to defy a government that had become despotic. It is unfortunate that some people today seem to have become confused about the nature of Patriots’ Day and what it is intended to commemorate.
If the history of resistance to tyrannical government bothers or concerns certain people, it is worth asking why. Who is apprehensive at the thought of Americans standing at the ready to defend freedom and to defeat tyranny? Who finds it frightening that some still possess the spirit of resistance that made this country possible?
I believe that it is the motives of those who fear our modern day patriots that deserve to be questioned, not the motives of the patriots who are willing to stand up for their freedoms and for the freedoms of all Americans.
Janice McGeachin is Idaho’s 43rd lieutenant governor. She is the first female to serve in this position.