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OPINION: A walk and a visit to the American Revolution

OPINION: A walk and a visit to the American Revolution

I guess you could call it a moment of parental regret. You know how it is. You get so busy making sure the lunch box has something in it, or that the socks match, and such, you neglect to take them to see something that might have been educational and enduring. 

I suspect it doesn’t matter how many things you do do. I took my kid to see Barney at the Oakdale (you don’t forget a sacrifice like that), the penguins at the Mystic Aquarium, the air and something museum near the airport — all sorts of stuff.

But it doesn’t matter. What you remember is the stuff you didn’t do. So, I didn’t take my kids to Washington, D.C., (I ran out of time!) or Disney World (no interest!) or, apparently, Boston, even though it’s right over there.

I did take the boys to Boston, though I worry that it wasn’t to the right Boston. I took one boy to see the Celtics (Paul Pierce hit a shot from mid-court), but we never did the Freedom Trail.

So, when his brother flew in to Boston on a visit from California a few months ago, and even though he’s now 30 years old, I said, hey, let’s go to Lexington and Concord. 

You may remember Lexington and Concord. It’s where the Revolution started. Or, to be more precise, it’s one of the many places the Revolution started, including Bunker Hill and where they held the Tea Party and where Paul Revere was riding … and in the minds of men.

In case you need a, brief, refresher: The Battles of Lexington and Concord were fought in April 1775. The British were marching from Boston to Concord, which is not all that far away, to pick up some munitions. They had a fight with an outnumbered band of militiamen in Lexington. More fighting ensued, which included the “shot heard ‘round the world,” and then the British headed back from Concord to Boston, by which time a lot more militiamen had gathered to fight them along the way. 

You can visit the path on which the marching and fighting took place, and it’s like a nice walk along a linear trail until you come upon, as we did, a couple of mini British flags and a marker that tells you that somewhere nearby a couple of British troops lost their lives. The marker’s just sitting there, at the side of the path.

When you come upon something like that, in the midst of an otherwise pastoral setting, it has a kind of immediacy, and at least for a moment no longer does the Revolution seem the ancient history of muskets and powdered wigs but something that happened right there, where you are standing — and not all that long ago when measured against the course of cosmic events. In other words, all it required was a little imagination to consider that it may have just happened.

I imagine at least a little of this is what it’s like to be an archeologist. And when I read a recent report out of Quinnipiac University it brought back the memory of that patch of memorial on the shaded path between Lexington and Concord.

“It’s still kind of hard for me to wrap my head around this. This was someone who was walking around in Connecticut in the 1700s. This is their actual bones. To me, that’s pretty mind boggling.”

That was Jerry Conlogue, co-director of the university’s Bioanthropology Research Institute, talking to the Record-Journal recently about three skeletons that were found beneath a Ridgefield home, believed to be the remains of soldiers killed during the Revolutionary War.

The skeletons were found by the owners of the home built in 1790 — talk about a surprise — as they were getting set to install a concrete floor in the basement. Now there are all sorts of high-tech gizmos that can be used to examine the skeletons, a rare opportunity to learn about “what life was like and what happened,” said a researcher.

It’s that sense of immediacy — we live amid our history — that can be easy to neglect or take for granted, and it’s always worth being reminded how special this special part of the nation is we call home.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or