Today we make a departure from posting primary source documents by and about Dr. Joseph Warren to note a bit of inspiration in the current day. A local runner has established a personal annual observance of the events, personalities, and principles that sparked a revolution. In light of the tragic events of recent days, it strikes me that this individual’s rite is as close in spirit to celebrating the sacrifice and enduring nature of American liberty by way of an athletic event, as is the much larger Boston Marathon.
For the past six years Michael McHugh has set out on the evening prior to the historic Patriot’s Day (actual date was April 19, 1775, a Wednesday that year) from the approximate location of Joseph Warren’s home office on a route following William Dawes’ “midnight ride.” From the Warren site, now on the north part of Government Center Plaza, he runs a course taking him to the William Dawes memorial in Cambridge’s Harvard Square, and continues on to the Hancock-Clarke House in Lexington. It is a total distance of 17.5 miles, which Dawes originally traversed on horseback. Approximating the limited historic bridge and road access to Boston, McHugh’s route to Cambridge is about 9-10 miles. He is recovering from a running injury so will go only the latter distance from Boston into Cambridge this year.
On the evening of April 18, 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren urgently summoned William Dawes and Paul Revere, told them of British plans for a military thrust to Lexington and Concord, and dispatched them on the Midnight Ride of history and legend. At the time Warren was president pro tem of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, head of its Committee of Safety, and a physician in private practice. The Revolutionary War began the next day as the forewarned Patriot militia and minutemen mobilized and confronted the British troops on Lexington’s Battle Green and at Concord’s North Bridge.
Warren’s home and office, the site of proximate iconic events precipitating the Revolutionary War, remains unmarked by the City of Boston. Local historian and author Charles Bahne has discussed the modern location of Warren’s home on this blog. J.L. Bell has suggested that an impressive bronze statue of Warren, belonging to the City of Boston and currently located on the campus of Roxbury Latin School, be relocated onto Government Plaza near the site of Warren’s 1775 home.
Mike McHugh will gather his wits and his sneakers on Government Plaza at the ‘X’ around 9:15 PM tonight, April 18, 2013, and depart at 9:30 PM. That ‘X’ is only on the above image; nothing currently marks the spot on the plaza. This is on the anniversary of the actual events, unlike our modern Patriots’ Day, which moves around to make a three day weekend. He welcomes the company of fellow runners and bicyclists. Just wear reflective gear for safety sake. You will likely recognize him as the only one out and about in running clothes at that hour. If not joining him, cheer him on. I do believe that he carries the true spirit of Patriots’ Day in Boston and Massachusetts.