This item and headline were updated to correct the anniversary of Patriots Day, which occurred in 1775.

 

A column of British Army regulars marched from Boston to Lexington, Mass., 235 years ago today, aiming to arrest leaders and confiscate supplies belonging to an increasingly rebellious group of colonists.

Hoping to surprise the rebels, it was the redcoats who were surprised by a line of armed farmers in battle formation.

A tense standoff collapsed when a shot rang out — no one knows who fired it — and a scuffle ensued in which more shots were fired. The British advanced to Concord, where they were beaten by irregular troops, who were fighting for their homeland.

That’s how the American Revolution started, and that’s what we in Maine, along with the folks in Massachusetts, celebrate today as Patriots Day.

The minutemen who met the British in Lexington and Concord are part of our national mythology and different groups at different times in our history have claimed to be their spiritual heirs. The latest to do so are the members of Tea Party movement, who claim their anti-tax, small government message as their heritage from the founding fathers.

They are right, but they are not the only ones. Not only are modern day tea partiers part of the American tradition of public dissent, but so is the government, which is constructed to listen to and be shaped by their protest.

Patriots Day is an occasion for all sides in the big issues to pause and recognize the heritage we all share.