This is a guest post written by Cooper Westfal, Hayden Westfal, Stockton Stivers and Kina
“We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.”Sonia Johnson
April 19, 1775, a small group of American Colonists stood firm against the British regulars and the course of history was changed. The actions of these brave men in Lexington and Concord started the American Revolution and our nation was born.
The annual Ruck for Liberty held in Lexington, Kentucky at Masterson Station Park, honors the determination and sacrifice made by the brave American colonists. Ruck for Liberty, organized and run by Kevin Fitz-Gerald of Revere’s Riders, takes place every year on April 19. This year, nine patriots trekked over 5 miles with heavy packs to celebrate the liberties born of our revolution.
“The most important thing to remember from today is that people fought and died for the liberties we have today,” said 11-year-old participant, Hayden Westfall. “We should cherish those liberties and not give them away,” he added.
Starting from a site not unlike Buckman Tavern, the group stood on a replica Lexington Green to listen as a time traveling Teddy Roosevelt called in on a cell phone and read his famous piece “The Man in the Arena”. Roosevelt’s speech motivated the hikers to action as he reminded them of George Washington’s motto, that “Deeds, not Words” are what stand the test of time.
Traversing high grass, wooded areas and numerous obstacles including walls and large logs, the group kept a steady pace even wading across several water obstacles. Along the way, Fitz-Gerald told stories about the fateful April 19 and the heroes of that day.
“He told the story about a group of ‘alarm-listers’, basically old guys, who captured a heavy wagon full of ammunition which the Americans later used at Breed’s Hill,” said 10 year-old Stockton Stivers. “Six British grenadiers threw their weapons in a pond and ran away eventually surrendering to an old lady in a field picking dandelions for a salad. She took them to a tavern, dragging one by the ear.” Cooper Westfall, 13 years old, added, “This became famous in British Parliament – one member said, ‘if one old woman can capture six grenadiers, how many grenadiers will it take to capture America?’”
At one point in the hike, the group crossed a small bridge where Fitz-Gerald stopped to tell the story of the battle at the North Bridge. “This bridge is very similar to where that battle occurred,” said Fitz-Gerald as he described the scene from 1775. He described the British convening on the bridge as the militia marched toward them and the eventual victory of the colonial militia.
8-year old participant Kina remembers that she, “liked hiking up and down the big hills and looking at the wildflowers and hearing the dogs barking at us. I remember the story Kevin told us about Sybil Ludington, a young girl helping save some colonial soldiers by carrying some gun powder in her apron from the gun powder room back to where they were shooting. I liked that story!”
Along the route, Ruck for Liberty stopped to speak with several people including law enforcement and a neighboring property owner. Fitz-Gerald explained the Ruck for Liberty and why April 19th is important. “It’s the true birth of our nation,” Fitz-Gerald told the observants.
“I’m really glad we did this,” said Cooper Westfall. “America would not be America if it weren’t for the people who fought on April 19th. I will always remember that it’s really when America began, not July 4, 1776.”