Paying homage to Patriot’s Day

By Michael Agnello

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(Cade Belisle/ Daily Collegian)

(Cade Belisle/ Daily Collegian)

BOSTON –– As the participants turned the corner onto Boylston Street, drawing toward mile 26, the patrons erupted in applause. The cheer is unlike any I’ve ever heard; it’s encouragement, respect and hospitality manifested in claps and whistles – fuel for a fatigued body. It was my first time attending the Boston Marathon, and my first time feeling the continued spirit of the American Revolution.

As a Massachusetts native I always observed Patriot’s Day, but never truly felt what it represented. I was ignorant to believe it was simply a holiday of remembrance, as that implies recalling something that is no longer present. But what the reaction on Boylston Street and the participants’ trek made apparent, was that we are preserving the ideals that ignited our forefather’s to freedom. There’s a reason the Massachusetts license plate features the tagline, “The Spirit of America.”

The Boston Marathon is distinct from other marathons for a couple reasons. One, it is a constant progression east. Most courses form a circuit, bringing participants back to the starting point. Though the act of moving forward reveals the patriotic perseverance to propagate change within the lives of American citizens. Rather than accept subjugation, the colonists decided to take action. The route, though it may appear arbitrary, can symbolize defiance against the norm and no regret for the past.

Secondly, the marathon features a variety of inclination. The infamous stretch of hills in Newton, including the famed ‘Heartbreak Hill,’ challenges the will of participants to summon courage when it seems most difficult. Similarly, the colonists were outmanned and underequipped in their fight for independence, but they continued to motivate themselves with the idea of a better life and ultimately accomplished the impossible. For many, completing the race means overcoming bodily restraints and so it signifies an entrance into a new mentality, of wider, freer, limits.

However, a revolution is nothing without its supporters. Receiving reassurance from others who value the efforts allows for critical morale boosts and helps instill meaning into action. During the revolution, it wasn’t just the militia involved. Ordinary citizens helped to contribute in ways outside of military engagement. And in keeping with the idea, all along the route, patrons stand, applauding for the participants, in solidarity. When it seems someone is struggling, the cheers intensify.

Through an annual presentation of perseverance, strength and community, residents and visitors bear witness to a reaffirmation of the city’s identity, a place where the spirit of the patriot has the power to influence the lives of people 200 years later. I traveled to Boston on Monday naïve about the holiday and left with a sense of pride and desire to better embody the mentioned values.

Spending Patriot’s Day in Boston can help to provide a more comprehensive insight into our nation’s ideals and introduce people of all backgrounds with positive life lessons. It can be easy to think pessimistically in today’s social and political environments, but understanding that strife needs to be met with resistance can aid in catalyzing change.

Michael Agnello is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]