As I grew up in Maine and have lived the past few decades in Massachusetts, Patriots’ Day is a holiday that I have celebrated my entire life, traditionally with a walk along the Battle Road in Lexington, Lincoln and Concord. The holiday commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, and as Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1820 it is recognized in my home state as well as my adopted one, a rare moment of concurrence for these two very different states. It is a day that has always had a spirit of collective festivity for me, as it coincides with both the coming of spring and the Boston Marathon, though this particular year that was obviously not the case as explosions at the finish line killed at least 3 people (including an 8-year-old boy) and wounded over 130 more. Someone took advantage of that collective festivity. An irritating cold kept me at home for the first time in many years, watching everything unfold throughout the day, bright morning to dark afternoon, from the vantage point of my bedroom television. Over the day, the contrast of reenactment and reality was striking, among other contrasting scenes. So much color and so much smoke: the images of the blasts on Boylston Street rising above the waving flags representing the nationalities of the 23,000+ participants in the Marathon–the last mile of which was dedicated to the victims of Newtown– struck me as particularly horrific in their juxtaposition of pride and terror.
Patriots’ Day morning and afternoon: the King’s Regular reenactors confront their militia counterparts on Lexington Green (Joanne Rathe/Boston Globe Staff); diverted runners walk down Commonwealth Avenue in Boston after the blasts (Michael Dwyer/AP photo).