Today was Sunday, the 19th of April. The beginning of a good day was felt as the morning brightness promised a fresh start to the season. The warmth of spring was in the air throughout the town of Concord, as the family returned home from the First Parish church.
On the ride back, William, the Reverend Emerson to one and all, spoke with Phebe, his wife and mother to their family of five, quietly, yet with perseverance. She understood his deep commitment to the people of the town. What was now happening throughout Massachusetts and beyond seemed to be a pot beginning to boil. Would it soon boil over? He was to do more for the country, by his own choice. His aid to others was in the form of allowing the church to be a safe haven for his brothers at arms.
The Reverend left his daughters and their mother at their homestead, the Manse, as he needed to return to church to meet the men. His son, and the youngest Emerson child, was to accompany him. He assured Phebe, not to worry. “Liam needs to be there with us as we are setting the tone for his life, too.” She agreed, knowing he would be safe with his father.
In the kitchen, Phebe spoke in her firm, yet motherly manner, when her first two daughters ventured out the door. The moist dew on the grass met their bare feet and the girls giggled with delight. “Abigail. Grace. Do not take another step. Come inside and put shoes on.” The girls marched back in and did as they were told. Then they were each handed a small basket. “There are some spring greens over near the water’s edge that would like your attention .” Mother added, “Please go down there and gather a lovely bundle for our supper tonight.” It would be a nice treat to add with the brined lamb already set to bake. She smiled as the youngest daughter walked away, then stopped to swing her arms. A robin was picking at some red berries at a nearby shrub, and Abigail was mimicking her winged friend. The moment passed when she decided to chase her sister to the river. It was all in good fun. Phebe, was delighted in this gleeful moment, as it was the refreshment she needed. Her older daughters, Molly and Eliza, knew another way to help, and quietly came over and wrapped their mother in a loving hug.
There was a heavy feeling in the household lately, and Phebe usually felt it after church services. Her husband spoke with passion to his congregation about resistance to the oppression by the English Parliament. His congregation were avowed patriots with God as their protector, and were there for the Reverend Emerson. He needed, however, to step back on occasion and lower his heavy fist and find the right way to be the one looked upon with kindness and compassion. Each one was living life day to day as best as they knew how, with the unknown lurking in hidden places.
One by one, the men arrived on horseback to the church. The Reverend opened the door with a greeting and welcomed them in to the foyer. “Good morning, gentlemen!” He was determined to help move their plan forward. “Come. Let us go inside.” He motioned to a bench for each to sit inside the safety of the church as it seemed like the right way to begin. He knew God would be watching over them. His son, Liam was in awe of the men; their physique, their candor and friendliness towards him. They came dressed in a style of uniform he had not seen in the church with his family as they all carried muskets and rifles, too. Who were they? The Reverend introduced his son and motioned for him to sit with the men. Liam was attentive to the conversation.
“Men” he began. “There is strong knowledge and not rumor that we are to see an insurgence.” The Reverend commented on the seriousness of training these men before him presented today. “John Parker,” he nodded to this man who looked drained. “Did we have a double team effort today?” He looked to the others, “Ephraim Ross! Did you outrun our poor Mr. Parker and beat him to the pub?” The others laughed and he responded, “Sir, that would have been the best direction to go at any time, but not today.” He looked to John, “We’ve had some mighty roads to traverse in the past few months, but I do believe we are ready. John, here, needs a moment as we all do.”
Liam jumped up and asked his father if he could go to the kitchen and prepare soup for the men.
The Reverend was surprised and humbled at the reaction of his son. “Liam! What a fine way to thank these men for their toil and efforts today.” The others were very grateful in this meager way that spoke volumes. They complimented Liam for his help. “May it come to be that you join us one day. It would be a fine way for a young lad, such as yourself, to continue what we do.”
Liam announced the soup was hot and to follow him to the kitchen. He felt this was one way that made him feel a part of the group even as the young boy he knew he was. Each one took a hearty bowlful served by Liam along with soda bread made by the church ladies. They were quiet as they ate, each one contemplating the day.
The Reverend spoke to the men about the talk that had recently transpired between him and others. The Custom House incursion was the start. The tea party happened next. Boston Harbor was closed. Anger was rising between British and American colonists. The British Parliament control was no longer wanted. There was no need for taxation without representation even indirectly from abroad. Tension was brewing between Great Britain and her American colonies. The Massachusetts colonial militia or citizen army, who aided the British during past skirmishes with the French and Indians, was to end. They became lax in their training. Demands were made and the Reverend was one of many who were adamant to see an end to this group as there was no loyalty to the colonists. He pleaded with them to force an attack on the British Regulars but was ignored. Change was near at hand.
The Massachusetts Provincial Congress in the fall of 1774 called upon towns to form a new and changed militia of special companies to be trained and armed at the ready in the event they were called up. They would be ready at a minute’s warning; the Minute Men.
The Reverend stood proudly, on this day, in the company of a strong and well equipped group. Liam smiled at his father as he spoke. William Emerson looked to each one and prayed for success in the spirit and pride of the many who would give their lives to be one with these brave sons, fathers and brothers. He shook hands with the boys and men; John, Thomas, Nathaniel, Ebenezer and Ephraim and they left to take part, in what would become, a defining moment in history.
The Reverend and Liam left soon after and returned home to the welcome of family. Liam shared the few caramels one of boys gave him with his very happy sisters. They were soon busy figuring a way to make their own batch of this treat. Sugar was limited, but this was perhaps, their new dream.
Phebe took William aside and spoke with concern about what she witnessed earlier by the river. Liam had stepped away from his siblings to listen to this talk.
“Let us walk there.” The Reverend smiled as he led his wife along the way. He motioned for Liam to follow. A commotion was soon heard in the distance. Men were shouting. The family stood at an open expanse and were rewarded with the view. A barrage of men began to gather at each end of the North bridge. This was a defining moment for the Reverend Emerson.
“Father, are those the men from the church?” Liam said with excitement.
“Yes, son, remember this time and be proud.” The Reverend replied in appreciation as the conflict unfolded.
It was the Minute Men on one side, in their noted blue shirts, muskets at the ready, and on the opposing side, the British, dressed in faded red coats, as the two came to a confrontation.
The noise of shouts and yelling was deafening in the skirmish that ensued until a lone soldier fired his weapon.
Silence filled the air for a rare, brief moment. This significant timeframe in American history would long be remembered.
It is the shot heard ‘round the world.