That memory may their deed redeem,

Wonder why we struggle to preserve old monuments? Emerson got it:

On this green bank, by this soft stream,

    We set to-day a votive stone;

That memory may their deed redeem,

    When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare

    To die, and leave their children free,

Bid Time and Nature gently spare

    The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Today’s an anniversary little remembered or honored in history classes where the lessons focus on the sins of our forefathers instead of their virtues. But the clashes at first Lexington and then Concord and back to Boston (the British regulars carried the first but lost the second catastrophically once the Americans learned a hard lesson: the best way to confront a red coat was from behind a bush) were pivotal in the history of the world. When Washington heard the news he wrote: “The once happy and peaceful plains of America are either to be drenched in blood or inhabited by slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice?”

The resolute farmer clutching his musket in one hand and resting the other on a plow was sculpted by Daniel Chester French and cast from the metal of Civil War cannons on the centenary of those first fateful skirmishes of the American Revolution.

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