“The British are coming!” cried Paul Revere.  On April 19th, 1775, the British marched toward the small villages of Lexington and Concord to seize supplies of the citizen militia and snuff out the colonial resistance.

But the British would not succeed.  Warned by Paul Revere’s alarm, the militia, made up of farmers and shopkeepers, met them on the green outside the town.  A hundred and fifty strong, the citizens of Lexington armed themselves and faced the trained forces of British infantry and grenadiers.  Captain John Parker told this volunteer militia, “Stand your ground.  Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

The British fired the “shot heard round the world,” in Emerson’s memorable words, and they marched against the citizens on the field, killing eight and leaving ten wounded. And so the War for Independence began. Before the British could continue into Concord, the Minute-men, rallied by the Battle at Lexington, engaged the British forces and drove them back into Boston.

To stand in that field was not an easy task, but it was a solemn duty.  That morning, the British intended to seize the colonists’ property unlawfully.  The colonists understood their obligation to defend their families, their homes, and their town. Fathers and sons, young and old, the men of Lexington were the first to pledge their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. They hoped to prevent a war, but they would not surrender their liberties. It was their duty and so they stood.

Leslie currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/internships-young-leaders/the-heritage-foundation-internship-program