We spent a full day at Minute Man National Historical Park in Lexington and Concord. One of the highlights here is the Battle Road Trail, where much of the fighting took place on April 19, 1775, between British soldiers and American patriots.
Numerous historic homesteads, such as the Captain William Smith House, still stand along the route, and British flags marked a few of the sites where soldiers had fallen that April day. Before walking in the steps of history along this five-mile trail, we stopped in at the Visitor Center in Lexington at the eastern end of the park to watch the multimedia introduction to that fateful day’s events, including Paul Revere’s ride and capture by the British.
At the western end of the park, the North Bridge Visitor Center in Concord provides an overview of the site where the famed “shot heard ‘round the world” formally detonated the American Revolution that same day.
The Minute Man statue stands next to the bridge and commemorates colonial militia members trained to be ready to fight at a minute’s notice who participated in battles throughout 1775.
As interesting as it was to walk in these historic sites, it was even more interesting to think about this country’s history and what liberty means today, so many years after pivotal events took place. A park ranger stationed at the Hartwell Tavern — located about halfway along the Battle Road Trail — reminded us that in 1775, people here were British citizens. Roughly a third of them felt the British government no longer represented their interests and wanted independence, another third were loyal to the crown and felt the independence-seekers were law-breaking rabble-rousers, and a final third didn’t care one way or the other.
I spent several days thinking about how I might have felt if I had lived in 1775, my attitudes toward segments of the American population that feel unrepresented today, and what independence means here and around the world.