This will appear in the Bernice Banner, Bernice, Louisiana, USA, the week of 4/20/2015

One of my most favorite holidays is Independence Day, the day that we celebrate as the signing of the document that was viewed as an act of tyranny by Great Britain but viewed by Americans as the document that threw off the yoke of tyranny. At the time of the signing the colonist was divided. One third of the citizens believed the declaration to be just and they supported it, one third believed it to be unjust and did not support it and one third could care less and had no opinion.
On April 19th, 1775, fifteen months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a rag tag group of Massachusetts militia stood tall in front of the greatest army in the world at that time. Someone fired a single shot that is referred to as the shop heard round the world. No one even knows which side fired it. What is known is that this one shot caused both sides to open fire and the war was on.
This militia was coined as the Minuteman and later morphed into what we now know as the Army National Guard.
We have heard so many stories about this day in American history. The mid-night ride of Paul Revere. The lantern in the belfry that declared “one is by land, two if by sea”. All of this has become a part of our culture. What is not known is that there is a day to honor this day in history that is every bit as important as Independence Day. April 19th is the official day first designated as Patriots Day and is now celebrated on the third Monday in April. Only two states officially celebrate the holiday, Massachusetts and Maine. Wisconsin and Florida law encourages the celebration of the day but it is not a legal holiday there.
For the holiday, Massachusetts holds re-enactments to include pitched battles and Paul Revere’s and William Dawes famous rides. Boston has expanded its’ celebration to include an athletic event. Two years ago the event took on an even more patriotic meaning as two terrorist set bombs that kill and maimed bystanders at the Boston Marathon.
While patriots are thought of as revolutionaries wearing the triangle hats and carrying a musket. In fact this is far from the truth. The definition of a patriot is “someone who feels a strong support for their country”. Patriots surround us today. Any man or woman that puts on a military uniform with an expectation to be ready to go to war is a patriot. Anyone that stands up and places a hand on a heart and looks at the American flag, possibly with a lump in the throat, is a patriot. A person that stands up for what is right and just in accordance with what the founding fathers envisioned is a patriot.
Wouldn’t it be nice to expand the Patriot’s Day that is celebrated in two states to honor the men that started the revolution that led to the building of the most magnificent country in the history of the world? Expand this day to honor all patriots, both living and dead, that love our magnificent country and declare it to be a national holiday. It would only be fitting.


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