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They Day We Were Born (A Memorial Day Tribute)

May 29, 2018

It doesn’t happen as much with automotive repairs, but it’s pretty common with construction. At least DIY construction. You buy a 4×8 sheet of plywood. You use it for a 3×6 cabinet back. But, you keep the left over pieces. Later you cut the 2×4′ piece down to 18″x36″ for a shelf. Later still you use the smaller piece as backing for a minor repair.

And that’s just the first use. Your cabinet may get recycled into parts for a dresser. You shelf might be made into a wall hanging. The point is that you reuse pieces over and over.

Today marks the 1378th blog entry on It’s not a significant number, as far as I know. I’ve been doing this for about five years, so I’m sure the math works out. And other than the last week of the year when I repost the most popular posts from the previous 12 months, I’ve never reused content.

I don’t say that as a brag. (Too late, I can hear you saying.) It’s just that I don’t really know how, or when to reuse content. And I’ve always got new stuff to say.

Yesterday was Memorial day here in the United States. We set aside the day to remember service men and women who have passed away. It doesn’t matter if they died in battle, or year later. Memorial day is a day to honor them.

My sons are working on the Communications merit badge and they needed to do a Scout program. They decided to hold a Memorial Day program and they asked me to be one of the speakers. And unlike the items I post her everyday, I decided to reuse content. I’d written a speech for Toastmasters several years ago. It’s a first person telling of my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Captain Abdail Bliss. He was at the battles of Lexington and Concord. He was later at the battle of Bunker Hill and served in the Massachusetts militia. He was one of the original Minute Men.

Here’s my version of the day he was born.


My name is Abdiel. I want to tell you about the day I was born. I don’t mean the 15th day of December, year of our Lord seventeen hundred and forty, although that was the date of my birth. I want to tell you about a day much later. Year of our Lord seventeen hundred and seventy five. It was the Springtime. I remember it was Spring because I’m a farmer. And I migh have remained just that, a farmer from Rehoboth with my wife Lydia and our six children, in the colony of Massachusetts, if it weren’t for the events of the nineteen day of April.

They said we were in a state of rebellion. And I gues that’s true. General Gage and the regulars controlled Boston. The Massachusetts Provincial Congress controlled the rest of the colony. Our spies told us that the soldiers were going to make a scout to capture our arms at Concord. Funny, that. That this all started over a failed raid. Because, you see, we had moved the arms from Concord weeks before. There were a few left, but not many.

The night of th eighteenth I travelled North to Lexington to join up with the militia there. For the road from Boston to Concrod must run through Lexington. We gathered in Buckman’s tavern. Paul Revere was there. As was William Dawes. They brought word the regulars were on the move. We weren’t sure if they’d push through or if they might have turned back. We sent out scouts. Just before dawn the last of teh scouts came back at a gallop.

They were coming. And they were coming in force.

Captain John Parker was in command. He was stricken with the tuburculoses. It made him hard to hear. As he formed us up he said, “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon. But, if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

Eighty of us formed up on teh West side of the square. The thing you need to understand is that we didn’t go there to fight. Many of us hadn’t even brought guns. We didn’t block the road. Like so many times before, we were there to observe. . .and to be observed.

Just as the sun was coming up the first of the soldiers entered the square. One company went to the left, one to the right to take up flanking positions. Still, we didn’t see them as the enemy. We were ENGLISH! That the English government would send English soldiers to point guns at English citizens was INTOLLERABLE.

An officer on a horse came out and addressed us.

“Lay down your arms, you damn rebels!”

We held our ground. I guess you know what happened. They say it was the shot heard round the world. Still there’s debate over who fired that first shot. The regulars on the far side of the square fired a volley. I was standing next to Ebenezer Munroe. “I think they are trying nothing but powder,” he suggested.

They reloaded and fired a second volley. Ebenezer turned to me with blood running down his arm, “Now, I’ll give them the guts of my gun.”

The square filled with smoke. We could only see the heads of the horses. We both fired.

They came out of the smoke with bayonets fixed and run us through. We retreated. We left eight dead and carried away ten wounded. We retreated to Concord were other militia were gathering.

The column arrived in Concord shortly before noon. We retreated across the North Bridge to the high ground. The soldiers took control of the bridge. Militia continued to join us. When we were about 500 strong, Major Jon Buttrick led us in an advance on the bridge.

There was doubt in Lexington. There was none here. They fired on us and we lost two men immediately. The major led us with the cry of, “Fire, fellow sodliers. For God’s sake, fire!”

We drove them from the bridge. This shocked us. Us, farmers, tradesmen, coopers had driven the soldiers from the world’s greatest army from the field. Around noon, the column started the march back to Boston. It’s seventeen miles from Concord to Boston. As they reached Merriem’s Corner, the Reading militia caught their rear guard. The battle was joined. We drove the column before us. It turned into a rout. They ran. Finally, at Lexington, they met up with a relief column and continued their retreat under the added protection of the fresh troops.

As I walked onto the Lexington square for the second time that day, I realized that something had died. We were no longer English. We truly were rebels now. But, with death came a new birth. That was the day that I, that was the day that we all were born as Americans.

Captain Abdail Bliss survived the war and moved to Vermont where he founded the city of Calais. He died in 1806 in the country that he helped form.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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