Wednesday, April 19, 2006

April 19: Revolution Day

Today is the anniversary of the "shot heard round the world." 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 Revolution, the new meaning of revolution began to evolve to include the "overthrow of tyrants." Thus revolution came to embody ideas and action 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.

Concord Hymn

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: You Say You Want a Revolution
Match the words from the American Revolution from the person who said them.

1. They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

2. I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.

3. I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.

4. There, I guess King George will be able to read that.

5. All men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

6. The die is now cast; the colonies must either submit or triumph.... we must not retreat.

7. These are the times that try men's' souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; bur that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

8. Nothing short of independence, it appears to me, can possibly do. A peace on other terms would..... be a peace of war.

A. King George III
B. Nathan Hale
C. Ben Franklin
D. John Hancock
E. Thomas Jefferson
F. George Washington
G. Patrick Henry
H. Thomas Paine

Quote of the Day: Would that life were like the shadow cast by a wall or a tree, but it is like the shadow of a bird in flight. --Talmud

1. C, 2. G, 3. B, 4. D, 5. E, 6. A, 7. H, 8. F

1 -
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.

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