The Bedford Minuteman Company’s 56th Annual Pole Capping Ceremony

The sonic report, followed by the smoke from musket shot ~ Image Josh Blackman (c) 2022, all rights reserved

 

The Bedford Minuteman Company was joined by 16 companies on April 9 for its first Pole Capping exercise since 2019, the 56th in the Company’s 58th year. The troops marched from Bedford Common to Willson Park for speeches, the climb, and a traditional visit from those pesky lobsterbacks.

 

The ceremonies began under showery skies Image Josh Blackman (c) 2022, all rights reserved

In his invocation, Rev. Christopher Wendell, Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, noted, ” The Episcopal Church, descends directly from the Church of….England.  It’s nice to know that as the battle recedes into history, those who might have been enemies for a time can become welcome neighbors again!”

Rev. Wendell wrote A Patriot’s Dream for the occasion:

Bravery and courage in the face of tyranny
Call forth our gratitude
and inspire our commitment
to resist oppression whenever it arises:
Click to read A Patriot’s Dream

Select Board Chair Emily Mitchell invoked history and the birth of America’s democracy in her remarks. “Here, what began as a seriously risky act—a public statement marking a meeting of the resistance—is now a beloved novelty. The Minutemen of Bedford whose names we recognize and honor even now—Nathaniel Page, Eleazar Davis, Caesar Jones, and others—made history as some of the seventy-seven Town residents, the largest contingent of soldiers from nearby towns, who showed up at Concord’s Old North Bridge to fight, with their flag—OUR flag—unfurled to April’s breeze. But today’s celebrations commemorate the events before that fateful day, when the outcome of years of resistance to British rule could not yet be known.”

In conclusion, Mitchell returned to the present, noting, “Democracy is messy. It is slow and boring and passionate and angry and deliberative. Democracy requires active participation to function. It requires compromise and good faith to function well. And sometimes, it requires one brave person to stick a hat on a pole in the service of liberty, and live with the consequences.

“Today our commemorations are in service of those who came before us. But every day we have a responsibility to those who will come after us, to secure those same blessings of liberty for those who will, one day, commemorate us. May the choices we make today be wise ones.”

Click to read Select Board Chair Mitchell’s full remarks.

BHS history teacher Christine Butler described the 2022 Marion Bryan Citizenship award recipient Bryan Aweh-Kisob as an all-around model student who “strives for academic success and builds strong relationships with his peers and the community.” Among his accomplishments? President of the BHS Student Council in both his junior and senior years. Group Commander MA 791st Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps AFJROTC). Captain of the Varsity Basketball team and volunteer basketball coach for Recreation Department programs. Mentor for middle and high school students in PreAlgebra and Algebra II as a Calculus Project Intern.

Aweh-Kisob replied that he was honored and grateful to receive the award, adding, “Nothing exemplifies a community like this town and I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to be a part of its numerous communities. Whether it was through school clubs, volunteering, or sports I’ve learned so much about what it means to be a proactive member of your community. And as I look back I will cherish all those opportunities and the everlasting memories I have made during my time here.”

Exclamations—Get ready!, Unite!, Freedom!, Upward!, Huzzah!, Beware!, Hold fast!, Determined!, Remember!—punctuated the poem Town Historian Sharon McDonald wrote for Pole Capping 2022. It likens the day’s exercises to a pantomime, but ends with a caution:

We’ll stand together, for our ideals –
Look up, beyond what a haze conceals
Stand strong for justice, democracy,
Our beloved America, blessed be —
Remember!
Click to read Sharon McDonald’s entire poem

Dignitaries led by Col. Katrina C. Stephens, Commander, 66th Air Base Group, Hanscom Air Force Base, placed a wreath at the stone honoring Captain Jonathan Willson who lost his life on April 19th, 1775.

The Liberty Pole was climbed by Jim Griffiths, a remarkable athlete who gained the top of the pole, planted the Liberty Cap, and did a horizontal plank before his descent. Once on the ground, the ‘miscreant’ was taken into custody by a pair of British Regulars (aka ‘lobsterbacks’) who escorted him from the premises.

Thanks to contributing photographers Michael Nosal and Colin Valentine for sharing their Pole Capping albums again this year.

Heading home Image Josh Blackman (c) 2022, all rights reserved

Pole Capping 2022 participants included the Acton Minutemen, Aleppo Shriners Minutemen, Boxborough Minutemen, Carlisle Minutemen, Concord Minute Men, First New Hampshire Regiment, Lexington Minute Men, Lincoln Minutemen, Menotomy Minutemen, Middlesex County 4-H Fife and Drum, Piscataqua Rangers Jr Fife and Drum Corps, Stow Minutemen, Sudbury Companies of Militia and Minute, Westford Minutemen, William Diamond Jr. Fife and Drum Corps, and the Wilmington Minutemen.

 

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