That was the call answered by about 100 citizens that gathered at the library and online to talk about how to commemorate the 1775 North Bridge battle that began the American Revolution. The Semiquincentennial (yes, that’s the word) is envisioned as a multi-year celebration beginning in 2024 through 2026.
Select Board member Henry Dane kicked off the Nov. 3 session organized by the 250th Executive Committee. He described the celebration as a “community adventure” and said that at this time of challenges to democracy around the world it’s more vital than ever to learn what happened in Concord in 1775.
David Wood, Concord Museum curator, highlighted previous commemorations beginning in 1824 with the visit of Lafayette; the 1837 construction of the memorial obelisk (some said on the wrong side of the river); and the 1875 Centennial with dedication of Daniel Chester French’s Minute Man attended by President Grant and 50,000 others on a cold wet day where it was said the warmest thing at the outdoor dinner was ice cream. In 1925 Vice President Charles Dawes (a descendent of William Dawes, one of the April 19th midnight riders) attended, but chose not to speak.
Many at the meeting could recall the 1975 Bicentennial when an estimated 120,000, including President Gerald Ford, participated in a day of patriot pride with parades and protest. The Concord Free Public Library Special Collections holds a wealth of resources on the Bicentennial event including a local television station’s video recording of the day. Check out https://concordma.gov/2871/Concord-Anniversary-Celebrations for all sorts of materials about 1775 anniversary celebrations through the years.
Executive Committee member Rob Munro, Assistant Head of School at Concord Academy,” sees the 250th as both “a springboard for moving forward” and “an opportunity for us to shine.” Saying that the process is just as important as the programs, Munro opened the floor to questions and comments.
Engagement of young people was a priority for many in the decidedly older demographic. Other ideas demonstrated the wide range of options that arise at such a significant time of remembrance and reflection. Among the suggestions: creation of a dynamic logo, art and music performances, recognition of under-represented groups including women and African Americans, online multiplayer games, participation from around the world, connect with others cities and towns named Concord, acknowledge the shortcomings of our past and the progress we’ve made, plant 250 “Liberty Trees,” bring people together and foster unity as Americans, honor veterans, environmental and carbon footprint awareness, free and inclusive events, push the envelope, think outside the box, and invite poet Amanda Gorman to write and recite a new Concord Hymn.
Executive Committee member Diane Proctor thanked those in attendance, “May we go forward with a sense of being connected to each other with an excitement about the collective project that lies ahead.”
The 250th Executive Committee has several subcommittees and is looking for more ideas and volunteers. To get involved contact the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A complete recording of the Nov. 3rd forum is available on the Minuteman Media Network at https://youtu.be/d9QyQdhOuus.