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[p. 32]

The Mayor's address.

Yesterday and today mark the anniversary of a past that deserves remembrance. Back one hundred and fifty years ago from yesterday, the battle of April nineteenth raged all along the highway from Concord to Charlestown. One hundred and fifty years ago today the Minute Men of Medford, who the day before had pursued the British along that line of retreat, were in quarters in Cambridge. The die was cast. The long struggle for independence was on.

We are the successors of that generation. We enjoy in peace all that they established out of that first armed stand in 1775. Their labor has become our liberty; their sacrifice our security; their privation, our prosperity. Out of all they gave, we have gained that for which, in the language of the day, they took up arms,— life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These have become to us a birthright, unquestioned and unchallenged.

It is fitting that each year we bring back into our consciousness the significance of the stirring events of a century and one half ago. In Massachusetts in particular, where the first volley of the Revolution was fired, let us Americans of today, whether we are descendants of the earlier settlers of this one-time colony, or of the later citizens of the present Commonwealth, join in grateful, reverent memory of the Americans of 1775 who in this region roundabout laid the beginning of our common country.

Here in Medford we are linked directly to that past. Without change of name, and with little change of boundary, Medford, the town of 1775, has become Medford, the city of our day. In our midst stand, like sentinels through the changing years, houses that saw the dawn of that April nineteenth. We gather in the presence of this venerable house. Here at the door, Paul Revere gave the first alarm on that ride through the night. From this house, while Revere dashed on up the country road to join Dawes in Lexington, the word of [p. 33] alarm spread through the town. It echoed through the night with the clanging of the bell in the steeple of the meeting house just beyond us up the street. It sped through the darkness with the unknown horseman who galloped from Medford to Malden. From along the roads that crossed at the Square they gathered where we stand. Near here the company formed, and before the sun rose, marched off into that day and into history.

Long years have passed since those Minute Men of Medford went up the road into the first battle of the Revolution. In the later days of that grim struggle other companies followed and other recruits filled the waning ranks of the Continental army. Medford men were at Bunker Hill, at Dorchester Heights, at Ticonderoga and Saratoga. But here and now, on the very ground where the first Minute Men assembled, our gratitude is kindled as we fancy that sturdy troop in the early morning, advancing to the unknown fate of pioneers in that most perilous venture of all,—the quest of liberty against constituted authority.

It was our liberty, not theirs alone, for which they risked all they had to give. It is therefore fitting that we evidence our remembrance of these men by a memorial more permanent than the spoken word or the gathering of the day. In the near future, but marking the observance of this one hundred and fiftieth anniversary, will stand a memorial bearing in lasting bronze the names of these Minute Men of Medford. It will fittingly stand near the spot where they gathered,—along the edge of the highway over which they passed.

Let it stand for long years, together with the Honor Roll Memorial, before the public school, holding up before us and our children's children the proud memory that from generation to generation patriots have risen in Medford. Let it hold up before us, too, their mute appeal, brought from that distant past, that we of our day serve too the generations that are to come.

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