Today is the anniversary of the first shots fired in the American Revolution. In 1775 at Lexington and Concord, 700 British troops confronted 70 Minutemen under the command of Captain John Parker. The Minutemen disregarded the British order to disperse, firing ‘The Shot Heard Round the Word.’ The American Revolution had begun (1).
In her essay, “To the Victor Belongs the Language,” Rita Mae Brown traces the history of the word revolution. The word originally had no political connotations; instead, it was used to describe the revolving of planets in space. According to Brown, the political word of choice in the 14th century was “rebellion,” from Latin meaning “a renewal of war.”
In the 18th century, the age of the American and French Revolutions, the new meaning of revolution began to evolve to include the “overthrow of tyrants.” Thus, revolution came to embody ideas and actions related to political and social change. Brown ends her essay by alluding to the use of The Beatles’ 1969 hit “Revolution” to sell Nike running shoes in the 1980s. This illustrates that overuse of any word can corrupt its original meaning (2).
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his famous poem, “Concord Hymn,” in 1837 to commemorate the first battle of the American Revolution. The poem was specifically written for the dedication of a monument to the Battle of Lexington and Concord.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps,
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream that seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We place with joy a votive stone,
That memory may their deeds redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
O Thou who made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free, —
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raised to them and Thee.
Today’s Challenge: The Revolution Started Here
What are some examples of specific geographical places in the world where important, revolutionary events happened? Brainstorm some examples of important historical events or inventions. Research one of these events or inventions, and determine the specific place where it happened. Then, compose a brief poem that celebrates and commemorates the event or invention. Image your poem will be placed on a plaque at the specific site, and include details that would inform and intrigue visitors to the site. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)
Quotation of the Day: A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets. -Napoleon Bonaparte
2 – Brown, Rita Mae. “To the Victor Belongs the Language.” in The Short Prose Reader (4th Edition). Gilbert H. Muller and Harvey S. Wiener editors. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1997.