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 which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
April 19th is Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts (I note that some calendars say 9/11 is now Patriots’ Day, but that’s something altogether different). The April Patriots’ Day holiday celebrates the Battles of Lexington and Concord that were the unofficial start of the American Revolution (the “Shot Heard Round the World.” and the “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”) This poem by Emerson is about the Old North Bridge over the Concord River in Concord, Mass, and the monument set there. You can still see it today. The bridge has been restored to look like it did back in 1775 and the monument is on the other side as you approach. It is a lovely spot and a fitting place to think about the sacrifice of those patriots who fought for liberty (then and now).