CW headlines Patriots Day events April 19 at U.S. Capitol, Historic Area
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is participating with the National Council for History Education (NCHE) Tuesday, April 19 in the first national celebration of Patriots Day, the 230th anniversary of the history-changing battles at Concord and Lexington in Massachusetts in 1775. British troops and Minutemen of the colonial militia faced off in an armed clash that became known as “the shot heard ‘round the world.”
Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area will serve as the venue for one of several regional Patriots Day events, and Colonial Williamsburg will participate in the national event at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The events are designed to urge Americans and the government to keep history strong in schools.
The Historic Area observance begins on the steps of the Courthouse of 1770 at 11:30 a.m. as the Fifes & Drums beat assembly. Militia commander Col. Patrick Henry, portrayed by Richard Schumann, addresses the assembled crowd on the importance of history and education as the key to the citizen’s life in a democracy. Mindful of the events in Concord and Lexington -- and the Gunpowder Incident in Williamsburg – Henry urges the crowd to be prepared to defend the nation and invites the assembly to join the army.
Following Henry’s exhortation, military interpreters will organize the crowd into companies of Virginia Volunteers, drill the new recruits and present them for review by Henry. To conclude the review, a cannon crew fires three salutes to the Continental Congress, Col. Henry and the newly-recruited Virginia Volunteers.
Presidents Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison, portrayed by Colonial Williamsburg’s Bill Barker, Steve Holloway and Alex Clark respectively, will participate in the national observance of Patriots Day in Washington, D.C. Senators Robert Byrd (D.-W. Va.), Lamar Alexander (R.-Tenn.) and Edward Kennedy (D.-Mass.) also are scheduled to speak. The 3:15 p.m. ceremony at the Capitol will include the reading of a letter from Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian David McCullough that urges stronger history and civics education in schools as vital to the survival of the nation.
The National Council for History Education is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to promoting the importance of history in schools and in society. NCHE is headquartered in Westlake, Ohio. For more information, visit the NCHE Web site at www.nche.net.