Back home in Boston for Patriots Day, I woke my 5-year-old son at 4 a.m. so that he could watch the battle that gave birth to a nation. The annual reenactment of the Battle of Lexington is an amazing tradition: People bundle up, stand eight deep, and climb trees and ladders to watch the patriots get trounced by the king’s army.
First come the drums, signaling the approach of the British. Next, the gathering of the troops on each side of the common. Then an explosion of sparks and gunfire. When the smoke clears, almost a dozen Minutemen lay on the field, injured and dead as their wives and children ran to them. As we watched the British soldiers march on past the wounded, my son asked, “But did we win in the end?”
I was halfway back to New York, where I live now, when I heard about the explosions that killed three people and injured more than 170 near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I did not tell my son about the tragedy that happened on the very spot where we had stood last weekend watching runners pick up their numbers. But I hoped I had already conveyed the best lesson he could learn: In Boston, we rise before the sun once a year to remember a fight that we lost. As we bear witness to that loss, we remember the whole story. We persevered. We fought on. We won in the end.