April 16th Patriot’s Day

This is Patriot’s Day! No, it isn’t about the New England Patriots that play football. It is about Patriots that were in New England but instead of winning the Super Bowl, they won America.  The date may be a bit confusing. It’s always celebrated the third Monday of April so though it is supposed to be in honor of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, which came on April 19th, this year it falls on the 16th.

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We are supposed to remember those men, and women, who answered the call of Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, announcing the British were marching on Lexington and Concord where the rebels kept their powder and weapons. Now there are a few flaws here. Number one, Revere didn’t complete his ride… in fact, he was arrested before he told hardly anyone! The next thing is that he would not announce the British were coming because, well… everyone was British! The proper announcement was, The Red Coats were coming (everyone knew the Red Coats were the soldiers).

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Now the opening battles of Lexington and Concord were actually lost by the Americans… or sort of anyway. They ran from the experienced Red Coats. However, the Red Coats didn’t get what they were after either as the Patriots had hidden everything where the soldiers could not find it. It was the soldiers return to Boston that was cause for alarm. The Patriots hit them over and over, striking as they had seen the Native Americans do to them for years.

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The Red Coats lost badly and the rebels had a new name, Patriots. The rest of the war didn’t go so well for the Patriots though they did finally win (as we all know). So today is the day we honor the memory of those who fired the opening shots. I wonder if we would be brave enough to do the same today if we had to?

How to celebrate  – Read about the Patriots. Visit New England and the battle sites there. Learn about the American Revolution.

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December 29th National Pepper Pot Day

Is it cold where you are? Need something hot to eat to warm you up? Try some Pepper Pot Soup! It is a thick spicy soup first enjoyed during the American Revolution at Valley Forge.

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George Washington ordered his chef to prepare a meal for the troops that were hungry and freezing in their winter camp. The desertion rate continued to grow, not because the troops were afraid of the British but because they could no longer stand the cold which they were ill equipped for. The chef basically threw everything he could get his hands on into the soup, tripe being the main ingredient along with bits of other meat and peppercorn.

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Desertion was no longer the issue at Valley Forge, neither was the cold… both being replaced by trying to find a way to put out the fire in the soldiers mouth! The dish was served on December 29th, 1777 and we have celebrate it since then as “The soup that won the war!”

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Also known as “The Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup” you can either make it up yourself with this recipe, or buy it prepared from a number of different soup companies.

How to celebrate – Spice up your life and fix some Pepper Pot Soup for your family. Visit Valley Forge. Research what Tripe really is.

April 17th Patriots Day

Patriots Day is primarily a celebration in the New England states where the “Shot Heard Around the World” was first heard. It commemorates the start of the Revolutionary War with the battles of Lexington and Concord, the “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” and The beginning of the Siege of Boston.  It always falls on the third Monday in April, though the actual action occurred on April 19th, 1775.

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It starts with the local militia taking a stand at Lexington trying to prevent the British from seizing the armory in Concord. Some 80 militia men, warned by William Dawes (Revere was arrested before he could warn the patriots), stood their ground before trained British Army units. It was a brief stand that the Redcoats blew right through.

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Reaching Concord, the British found all the powder and weapons removed from the armory and after a short skirmish, began marching back to Boston.

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The Patriots had no standing army that could match the British in traditional tactics of the day. However, they had learned the art of hit and run, considered less honorable but very effective. The British, unchallenged to this point, found their way back to Boston a living nightmare as they were hit by the American’s at nearly every turn.

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Hiding behind trees and firing only once before running away, the American’s made the British pay. In the end, 49 Americans were killed, 39 wounded and 5 went missing. The British lost 73 killed, 174 wounded and 53 missing before reaching the relative safety of Boston.

Though not all of America celebrates Patriots Day, we should. It is the first day we stood up on our own and started the long road to becoming a country.

How to celebrate – Remember those who lost their lives defending America before it was America. Read about the battles of Lexington and Concord. Check your family heritage and see if you may have had a Patriot in your history.

 

October 11th General Pulaski Memorial Day

There is no doubt that the American people owe much of their freedom to officers that came from other countries during the American Revolution. It’s not hard to understand why. Much of Europe had been at war for generations and learned how to fight. Much of being a soldier, was the training the troops are put through. The Americans were farmers for the most part. Yes, some had fought in the French and Indian War, but generally as volunteers that were not trained. They were allowed to come and go as they please.

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Officers came from Germany, France, and Poland, just to name a few, all trained in their positions in their country, and by the fact that war was constantly under way. Names like Lafayette and Baron Von Steuben are fairly common to Americans but another hero was General Kazimierz Pulaski from Poland (his first name has several different spellings).

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He is considered an American hero, helping the fledgling farmers become soldiers and leading them to victory instead of defeat. His American adventures ended at Savannah, Georgia, as the combined American and French forces tried to retake the city from England. They did not succeed, and Pulaski lost his life in the battle.

While it is true that many of these men were adventurers. They fought because it is what they knew, and did it well. War, at that time, was still considered a gentlemanly art that far too often ended the lives early of those who might have produced something more if they had lived. But sometimes in death, they provide a leadership as well, showing others the full devotion to the causes they believed in. Pulaski’s Memorial Day was made by a public resolution in 1929, and has been honored by every President since.

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How to celebrate – See how your town, county or state celebrates General Pulaski Memorial Day. Look up other heroes who were not given the credit for our freedom they are due. Study how many people from other countries helped this republic and made it what it is today.

August 7th National Purple Heart Day

The “Military Order of the Purple Heart” was first awarded by George Washington in 1782, particularly for the veterans of the American Revolution who in “Any Singularly Meritorious Action” deserved one. Originally called the Military Merit Decoration, it was given to six veterans, though there may have been more that went unrecorded. It was made of purple silk cut into a heart shape with a thin edge of silver with the word merit inscribed across it.

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The medal went dormant until World War 1 when 320,518 Americans were awarded the Purple Heart, now given to those who have been wounded or killed, and in some case for other special merit actions. This time the medals were awarded in the name of the President of the United States.

In 1932 a special day was set aside for those who had earned the Purple Heart but it varied from state-to-state, and city-to-city. Once again, with no wars taking place, the medal was set aside until General Douglas McArthur convinced Congress to re-designate the medal for those wounded or killed during World War 2. Another 1,076,245 were issued before the war was over. George Washington’s bust was added to the medal to give it even more meaning.

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The medal has been in constant use since World War 2. 118,650 were issued during the Korean War, another 351,794 for Vietnam. Estimated numbers since then through 2010, include 607 for the Gulf War, 7,027 for Afghanistan and 35,321 in Iraq.

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Since then, the Purple Heart has also been awarded to wounded animals in military service. The Purple Heart is the oldest medal in American history. The National Purple Heart Hall of Fame is in New Windsor, N.Y..

How to celebrate – Honor those who have fallen, or been wounded, in defense of America.  Visit the Hall of Fame in New Windsor. Find out if anyone in your family has ever earned a Purple Heart.

 

June 17th Battle of Bunker Hill Day

Today most bloggers will be writing about the great holidays of Apple Strudel Day, Flip Flop Day, Stewart’s Root Beer Day, and Eat You Vegetables Day, and while they are indeed important days to America, you’ll forgive me if I choose a lesser known one, the Battle of Bunker Hill Day.

You may remember Paul Revere’s Ride or what happened at Lexington and Concord, but the American Revolution really started above Boston on Breed’s Hill. True the Americans and the British collided at Lexington and then Concord, and the British were manhandled on their retreat back to Boston, but if that was where it ended, little would have changed.

As the British retreated into Boston the Americans surrounded them cutting off any movement from the Charlestown Peninsula (where Boston rests) except by sea. General Gage knew he had to break out. He feared little from the rebels, after all he had the finest troops Europe had ever seen under his command.

The break out was to come at Bunker Hill but rebel Colonel William Prescott saw Breed’s Hill, a slightly smaller hill next to Bunker Hill, as a better spot to defend. The attack came on June 17th, 1775.

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The British charged once and the rag tag army of the rebels drove them back.  Prescott issued his famous command, “Do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes”. A second attack was launched with the same results. Staggered, but not beaten, the British reformed once again and charged with their most determined attack yet and broke the American lines.

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However, the British losses were higher than anyone had expected. They drove the Americans back, but not away from Boston. The British retreated back into Boston to tend to their dead and wounded, and the Americans, encouraged by their near defeat of England’s best, closed back in. The siege of Boston began, and the Continental Congress sent George Washington to take command.

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The American’s losses were some 300 dead and wounded. So while it may not be as interesting as Flip Flop Day, I think it holds some importance in America’s history.

How to celebrate: Visit Boston if you can. Remember Breed’s Hill and what it meant to our freedom. Fly the flag to show your support for those who led our way.

June 7th National Boone Day

June 7th was selected as National Boone Day because on June 7th, 1769 he began his exploration of Kentucky, eventually founding the town of Booneborough.

Boone was born on November 2nd, 1734 in Pennsylvania, the son of a Quaker. He lived a life many could only hope to live – becoming a Frontiersman, Long Hunter, Trapper, Soldier, Teamster, State Militia Officer, Politician, Surveyor, Merchant, Tavern Keeper, Horse Trader, and Land Speculator over 85 years.

Unable to maintain his life in the Quaker faith, he moved to North Carolina in 1750 where he became a Christian and married Rebecca Bryan. The two celebrated the birth of 10 children over their lifetime.

While in North Carolina, Boone became involved in the French and Indian War, taking him to Virginia for a brief period of time before returning to the Carolinas.

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In 1773, he moved his family to Kentucky and became the frontier character that legends were made of. Kentucky was the frontier of America at the time and when the American Revolution broke out the once peaceful Indians in the area began attacking the settlers. 2 of Boone’s daughters were captured until Boone was able to nearly single handedly rescue them. In fact “The Last of the Mohicans” was based loosely on this rescue.

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Boone moved back and forth across the country over the next several years finally ending up in Missouri where Spain made him a syndic (the judge and jury) and the commandant of the Militia.  He remained in the position until the United States aquired Missouri in the Louisana Purchase in 1804.

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Boone remained in Missouri spending time with the likes of John James Audubon. He died in his son’s home on September 26, 1820 at 85 years young.

 

How to celebrate:  Visit the location where Boone “Shot a Bear” when he was supposedly only 3 years old. Read “The Last of the Mohicans”. Find a ‘coon skin cap and wear it for the day (though there is no real evidence that Boone actually woree one). Watch the Disney zmovie Daniel Boone.