On the Road with the Patriots

by David Trumbull

April 9, 2004

Last month the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts voted March 12 as Jack Kerouac Day, “in recognition of Jack Kerouac's contributions to American literature and the genre of spontaneous prose, for his contributions to his Franco-American heritage, and for his love of his hometown of Lowell. Reflecting on this posthumous honor conferred on the author of “On the Road,” --the novel that, to use the inevitable cliché, defined a generation of Americans-- and certainly one of the most famous sons of this birthplace of the American industrial revolution, I started thinking about other Bay State commemorations.

“Listen, my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five.”

New England’s original “On the Road” man looms large in these parts --life-sized, in fact, in bronze, in Boston’s North End. There, as well, you’ll find his house preserved, just as his ride is preserved in the Longfellow poem.

“You know the rest. In the books you have read,
How the British Regulars fired and fled—“

And that morning of April 19 officially marks the beginning of the American War of Independence. We celebrate it as Patriots’ Day, and, like Revere, take to the road – a renowned twenty-six miles of road from Hopkinton to Boston.

At the original Marathon, 26 miles from Athens, Greece, free, Democratic, Western civilization faced and defeated the forces of absolutism. It is a battle that has been fought many times. It will be fought many more times. Freedom must always be prepared to fight just to be free.

On September 11, 2001, after the unprovoked terrorists attacks on thousands of innocent, unsuspecting civilians, President George W. Bush spoke of why we were attacked, and why we shall prevail: “America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.”

Our patriot forefathers (and every America is a Son of Liberty, regardless of when your people came here) knew that freedom is worth fighting for. The people of Iraq, free at last from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, certainly agree. This Patriots' Day let’s reflect on the cause of freedom, and thank the brave American men and women who, in every war from the Revolution to the Iraq war, have made it possible for us to enjoy this April 19 as a free people.

David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee; he may be contacted at (617) 742-6881 or Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.