The Boston Marathon Bombing and Patriot's Day

The Boston bombings coincided with Patriots Day, set aside to remember Minutemen facing off against British regulars. Photo: The Minutemen

SAN JOSE, April 30, 2013 —  April 2013 will go down in history as the time of the Boston Marathon Bombing in which three Americans died at the scene of the crime, an MIT policeman was slain afterward, and at last count 260 people were injured in the two bomb blasts.  In the aftermath of the carnage, Americans are still reacting to this terrorist attack.  Some remain shaken by the death and destruction while others are questioning the absolutist, militaristic shutdown of Watertown during the manhunt for terror suspects.  Recently, Bill Maher, the late-night host of “Real Time” stated, “This country   is becoming a police state, and it is very troubling…” 

Had heavily armed police and federal law enforcement squads streamed into the targeted area, or had subways and buses been totally shut down, or had Amtrak service into Boston been shut down, and had college campuses closed down during President George W. Bush’s administration, the incident would have triggered a much more harsh and widespread reaction, with Bush more than likely vilified as a modern-day Josef Stalin. 

Nevertheless, the residents of Boston and the Watertown area seemed quite complacent and unconcerned that heavily armed police and federal law enforcement squads streamed into the targeted area during the manhunt, and unperturbed that subways and buses were totally shut down throughout the city, and undisturbed that college campuses were closed down.  Residents had been effectively terrorized and were willing to allow the law enforcement units involved in the manhunt put the city under temporary martial law. 

In fact, relief and gratitude swept through the populace as they learned the prime suspect had been successfully apprehended.  The police were cheered.           

The irony was that the homemade bombs initially did their damage on April 15th, which is the day the people of Massachusetts were celebrating Patriots’ Day, which was established commemorating the day long ago in which a few dozen Minutemen faced off against a few hundred British regulars.  Since 1969, the state set aside the day to remember April 19, 1775 when the initial battles of Lexington and Concord were fought over British attempts to seize citizen’s arms and ammunition stored in the area.  The British came in full force and part of their mission was to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams for treason.  After they killed five colonists and disbursed the ragtag rebel band, the British troops cheered. 

Such a time has been well documented in American history and well dramatized in America’s literature.  Emerson, who moved to the Concord area in October of 1834, eventually bought a home near the area and wrote the “Concord Hymn” at the request of Concord’s Battle Monument Committee and his poem was read and sung at Concord’s Independence Day celebration in 1837.  Later, just before the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War, Longfellow wrote his famous poem which commemorated the ride of Paul Revere, who had helped alert the Minutemen of the coming of the British regulars.

In our time, Americans are assuredly in a much different state, far from the days of muzzle-loading muskets, powder, and shot.  In 2013, the revolutionaries are no longer those gutsy guys willing to die for bold ideas of freedom; today’s radicals are quite willing to die for different ideals and intent upon unleashing destruction and death upon innocents for entirely different reasons – some for no real reason at all.  It would prove valuable to recognize that not all revolutions have been created with equal value. 

Sadly, somewhere in the world, there are those who cheered the terrorist acts; somewhere in the world, there are those who cheered the two terrorists, somewhere in the world, there are those who watched with serious intent the response of the law enforcement personnel and learned what to expect; and sadly, somewhere there are those who are planning another attack.  It is important that Americans remember this day of bombing and terror and offer their prayers and condolences to the victims and to the families of those who lost their lives. It is important that Americans realize that this is now the new America, where radicals and terrorists have forced the hand of the law enforcement officials and America’s political leaders who will not hesitate to suspend some freedoms in order to preserve what little freedom is left in the world.

Nevertheless, it is also important that in times like these, Americans realize that such attacks are not just attacks upon innocent people, but such attacks are made upon each of us, and they also represent attacks upon our way of life and upon our fundamental ideals and values.  It is important that in times like these, Americans remember the real reasons a day such as Patriot’s Day would be created in honor of the memory of those brave patriots who sacrificed their lives for true freedom.  Now, more than ever, it is important that Americans rekindle the deeper values underlying the formation of this nation because such terrorist attacks represent repeated attempts to eradicate the freedoms and fundamental rights for which our founders were so willing to offer their lives – among them were Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. 

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Dennis Jamison
Dennis Jamison
Dennis Jamison reinvented his life after working for a multi-billion dollar division of Johnson & Johnson for several years. Now semi-retired, he is an adjunct faculty member  at West Valley College in California.  He also currently writes a column on history and one on American freedom for the Communities at the Washington Times.


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