Everything we as a nation became started with a single musket shot in a field in Lexington, Mass., on April 19, 1775.
For those who did not have time Wednesday to recognize the 242nd anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the famous “shot heard ‘round the world” will get the full patriotic treatment Saturday at the Pier Village and the Casino on St. Simons Island.
The 13th Annual Patriots Day events will include ceremonial cannon fire, Revolutionary War re-enactors and Colonial Color Guards taking part in observances both solemn and celebratory. Those in period dress will then be joined by local patriotic organizations and youth and school groups for the Parade of Patriots through the Pier Village.
The free event begins at 10 a.m. with a memorial ceremony in the Casino at Neptune Park, followed by the parade at 11:45 a.m. Families and children can intermingle with the re-enactors in various educational activities at the park following the parade. The local Patriots Day is sponsored by the Brunswick and Fort Frederica chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution, as well as the Marshes of Glynn and Georgia Society chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution.
“Everyone who joins us will learn, and have fun and feel patriotic,” said Bill Ramsaur, an organizer of the event and a member of the Marshes of Glynn SAR. “This is a chance to focus on a point where the American Revolution really began. It really was an incredible event and period in time.”
Patriots Day ceremonies are rarely observed outside of Massachusetts and Maine. But the historic date that marks the start of the Revolutionary War also holds patriotic significance here on St. Simons Island. Three years later, the Georgia State Navy outgunned and overtook three British sailing ships on the Frederica River on April 19, 1775.
Patriots Day on St. Simons Island also is a salute to that local, but lesser known Revolutionary War victory in what has become known as the Frederica Naval Action, Ramsaur said.
“It really should be a national holiday,” Ramsaur said of Patriots Day. “And since we did have the naval battle that occurred here three years later on that same day, we picked up Patriots Day locally to celebrate both.”
Commanded by Col. Samuel Elbert, the Georgia State Navy’s swift and shallow draft galley ships rowed into action against three British sailing ships on the Frederica River during the local engagement. The big British sailing ships were out-maneuvered in the cramped waters of the Frederica, where the galley ship’s cannons also proved more effective.
The British abandoned the three ships under heavy bombardment and escaped in rowboats to a sailing ship moored in open water.
Those galley cannons were similar to the 3-pounder that will be fired ceremonially at intervals during the day Saturday at the park.
Ramsaur, who often portrays George Washington in educational visits to local schools, will dress the part of Col. Elbert on Saturday. Another popular attraction at the event is John Turrentine’s mounted portrayal of Paul Revere, whose famed ride the night before Lexington and Concord gave Colonial Minute Men a heads up that the British were coming. Additional historic figures getting the treatment Saturday might include the “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion, the soldier Elijah Clarke, backwoods heroine Nancy Hart and freedom rider Sybil Luddington.
Other participants include several local high school JROTC outfits, scout groups, elementary school presentations and the Risley Middle School Choir, which, among others, will perform “My Shot” from the Broadway Musical mega-hit, Hamilton.
“It’s a patriotic and a historical thing,” Ramsaur said of Patriots Day. “The British thrust this war upon us, and this little collection of colonies went on to defeat the most powerful army and navy in the world.”