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'Distancing Ourselves For A Common Cause': Coronavirus Cancels Battle Of Lexington Reenactment

The Lexington Minute Men are confronted by British forces during the 2018 dress rehearsal of the Patriots Day reenactment. (Sharon Brody/WBUR)
The Lexington Minute Men are confronted by British forces during the 2018 dress rehearsal of the Patriots Day reenactment. (Sharon Brody/WBUR)

On any typical Patriots Day, early morning on Lexington Green is filled with white smoke, booming muskets and yells between tyrannous British soldiers and Minute Men. But not even those opening moments of the American Revolution are untouched by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lexington Minute Men decided in March to cancel all events — including the Patriots Day re-enactment of the Battles of Lexington and Concord — because of the virus outbreak, said Lexington Minute Men Chief of Staff Bill Delay. It is only the second time in the re-enactment's 110-year-long history that it has been cancelled. The first time was in 2007 because of a snow storm.

"It's very difficult for everyone to kind of just put everything aside," Delay said. "But ... this is crazy times. I mean, you just have to do it. We're just not doing anything until we can get together again."

Delay is a descendant of the commander who led the colonists on the town green in 1775. He says while the cancellation is unfortunate, he thinks the spirit of the decision is in keeping with the event's history.

"They [the colonists] gathered and fought for the common cause. And today, we're doing quite a different thing. We're staying away and distancing ourselves for a common cause and fighting another enemy," Delay said.

While the Lexington Minute Men are already looking forward to the 2021 reenactment, Delay said he thinks the event could be different if social distancing protocols still need to be followed because of the coronavirus.

But for now, Delay is taking stock in the meaning of the battle's history and what essential workers are being asked to do today.

"Doctors, nurses, even grocery store clerks. Police and fire. They have to be on the front lines today and go out there, like running onto the green," Delay said. "Running in front of the enemy and hopefully saving us all."

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