Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ode to Old North Church

There sits in Old North Boston   
          an aged, hallowed square.

And at it's very center,                     
           they raised a shinning light.
A'top the Old North Church, up creaking wooden steps.
They say they know not who the rusty lock undid,
or whether there were two, or more.

But raise they did the latern,                           
          one if by land, two sea.
And thus was launched the call to arms,
         from sea to shinning sea.
They'd gather on the common,                   
 lay out their secret plan.
And fire the tiny volley,                                                   
the one heard 'round the world.

T'was Liberty and Tyranny    
         laid bare for all to see. 

For some it was their destiny,    
                for others just to see.

"We must all hang together,                
               or certainly apart."

For they'd sworn their sacred honor...            
cast their lot with Liberty!

There sits in Old North Boston,        
a beacon to the world.

The clattering of the hooves, 
           still echoes in the dark.

The ghosts, Revere and Dawson,   
         ride in darkness, not in fear.

Who lit the light is mystery,            
perhaps we'll never know.

But light it sure they did.

A Beacon in the darkness,
          for all the world to see.

And yet the battle wages,       
     and yet the canon roar.

'Cause with the lighting of the lantern,    
                 came burdens more to bear.

So come and listen children,      

         and marvel at the tale.

Of the night they rode at midnight,

in search of Life, and Liberty!

'Cause the light in Old North's belfry,      
                    had been lit for all to see.

For Camila and Cecilia,
May you grow up strong and brave and free.
And may your love of Life, Liberty and America grow,
And like the Old North Church,
Serve as your beacon for many years come.

I've been to four places in America where the sense and weight of history overcomes me and leaves in awe. Arlington Cemetery, The Alamo, the Gettysburgh Battlefield and the Old North Church. ... A few weeks ago, I was there.

It was snowing, and I was the only one on the grounds and in the church. Walking quietly among the pews, the boards creaking below my feet, reading the names of common men and patriots who had sat in them, breathing the smell of history that permeates places like these.
There is a sense of calmness, of belonging, of awe at your insignificant place in the world and what others have done to secure your place in it.

I spent nearly an hour on the grounds without hearing anyone else's voice and when I was leaving, I came upon a young mother and her two children, walking in the courtyard's snow, on the way into the church and it all became very clear to me.  How important it is to teach our children the value of history, no matter how stilted or glamorized it is.  Our values and traditions, our legends and our heroes. 

Unfortunately, one day someone may send one of these children into battle.  If you're going to ask a person to take up arms, perhaps to die,  you'd better damn well be sure they understand why!

Three days ago, while looking through the images, words and phrases kept pouring into my head, and while I liked them, I kept brushing them off, but they kept comming, more and back, until I gave in and picked up the pen to let them flow.

I hope you like them, the words and the images, and are as moved as I was, and that you'll be sure to take the time to Teach Your Children like the young mother that snowy afternoon when it might have been easier to saty at home and watch Sesame street. 

And that if you haven't; that you'll one day visit one of these places where this great nation began or was forged.

If you'd like to see the entire "Please, come to Boston Collection," click here.


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