Friday, April 19th, is Good Friday, the day we Christians mark the anniversary of Jesus' painful death on the cross where he sacrificed his own life so that those who trust him will enjoy eternal salvation. It is also Patriots’ Day, which is one of my favorite American holidays, where we celebrate the valiant patriots who risked and gave their lives so that we should be free.
April 19th was the day that American colonists said, “Enough!” It was on that day when a few brave souls mustered their arms and sent tyranny a warning via a lead musket ball. It was the beginning of the birth pangs which would bring forth a new American nation. It is a day that every red-blooded American should remember, reflect upon, and revere.
Many heroes were made that day. In the dark of night, during the wee hours of April 19th, Paul Revere made his famous ride warning of the advance of the British army. He was joined by Samuel Prescott and William Dawes. Despite lore, Prescott was the only one who made it to Concord. Revere was captured by British soldiers. Dawes escaped capture but was turned back. As many as 40 riders in total participated that night, warning neighboring communities and giving the call to arms. One was a young Sybil Ludington, whom every American girl should read about in school.
On the morning of April 19th, American minutemen met the British regulars, first at dawn in Lexington where eight Americans were killed and the British continued to advance. Concord was a different story where the Americans outnumbered the British four-to-one. They repelled the British at the North Bridge, who then began their long withdrawal back to Boston. The Americans continued to engage the British Army along the way.
It was on that march back to Boston where my favorite patriot stood alone against a retreating British squad. If you’ve never heard the story of Captain Samuel Whittemore, you haven’t lived. At approximately age 80, hundreds of years before Clint Eastwood, he gave original meaning to the phrase, “Get off my lawn.” He engaged and killed several British soldiers with his musket, pistols, and sword before succumbing to their bayonets. Despite being stabbed over a dozen times, he lived another 18 years to see a new nation form and our Constitution ratified. He embodies the American spirit. He was one man who survived against all odds. He stood alone in a death match against tyranny, and he won.
It should be remembered that the British were coming to take over stores filled with American arms, including cannons and gunpowder. It should also be noted that these “weapons of mass destruction” were in private hands as well. Not only were they coming for arms, ammunition, powder, and cannons, they were coming to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock. You see, the first thing tyrannical leaders do is take away the weaponry of those they wish to control and arrest, or in some way silence, their leaders. It should be no wonder why the first and second items in the Bill of Rights protect speech and individual's ability to bear arms. One could make a strong argument that both amendments were born that day.
So, when a schmuck like Eric Swalwell threatens to jail gun owners who refuse to turn in their weapons, he should be reminded of April 19th, 1775 and how it turned out for the British. It didn’t take an army of Americans marching and protesting to be free from tyranny, it took a group of well-armed patriots who were willing to die for those freedoms. There are enough Samuel Whittemores still around to repel such a future attack. I pray that we settle these issues at the ballot box and not the cartridge box.
It is our birthright as Americans to be free. Just as salvation was bought and paid for by Christ for those who believe, our American freedom was bought and paid for by patriots like Samuel Whittemore, Paul Revere, Dr. Joseph Warren and the hundreds of others who stood against tyranny. They, like Christ, gave their lives so that others would live free.
I am eternally grateful for both on this day.