This year is shaping up to be quite a year for anniversaries.

The oldest anniversary we’ll mark this year is the landing of the Pilgrims in Plymouth 400 years ago. An estimated 35 million Americans can trace their lineage to the Mayflower. The U.S. Mint will release a coin to mark the occasion, and the United States Postal Service will produce a commemorative stamp.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for the Lakes Region Weekly, lives in Windham.

If you’ve never been to Plymouth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts, this may be the year to spend Thanksgiving Day there. It’ll be crowded with celebrants – and the obligatory Pilgrim-hating protesters – so prepare for crowds and perhaps some discord.

Almost to the day, 250 years ago, the Boston Massacre took place on March 5, 1770. Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick and James Caldwell died on site when British troops fired on a crowd of hecklers and protesters in front of the Old State House in downtown Boston, where a cobblestoned circle now marks the infamous skirmish between Colonialists and British troops. A fifth protester, Patrick Carr, died a few days later.

Dan Abrams, chief legal affairs anchor for ABC News, has written a book detailing the trial of the eight British soldiers who fired upon the crowd. It’s worth reading because John Adams, who would become the nation’s second president after America’s independence, endured scrutiny for serving as the British soldiers’ lawyer.

Our system of government and civilized society rely on due process and dispassionate legal representation. This case, in what was obviously a tense political time, shows the value of brave lawyers such as Adams who argue on behalf of unpopular clients.  I especially liked the following reflective quote from Adams regarding his role in the trial:

“The part I took in defense of Captain Preston and the soldiers procured me anxiety and obloquy (strong public opinion and verbal abuse) enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country. Judgment of death against those soldiers would have been as foul a stain upon this country as the executions of the Quakers or witches, anciently.”

Two hundred years ago, on March 15, 1820, Maine entered the union as a free state under the Missouri Compromise. Maine Bicentennial celebrations are ramping up around the state this spring and summer to mark the momentous occasion when we split from Massachusetts.

Of course, Maine’s history goes back well before 1820. It goes back even before native tribes, which called her home for thousands of years before Europeans discovered her. While marking the bicentennial is notable for historical context, Maine’s essence has little to do with man’s imprint on the land, but rather by the land itself, which was best summed up by poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, an ol’ Mainer herself:

“All I could see from where I stood,

Was three long mountains and a wood;

I turned and looked the other way,

And saw three islands in a bay.”

One other important anniversary we’ll mark this year happened in 1920, a century ago: Women earned the right to vote after seven decades of protest. The effort began in 1848 with a women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, and culminated in the ratification of the 18th Amendment on Aug. 18, 1920.

I wonder what 2020 will be remembered for. Will it be for COVID-19 or perhaps as the year America chose a socialist as its dear leader? History will be the judge.

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