The weather forecast predicts an exquisite Saturday morning at Willson Park in Bedford – bright sunshine and temperature in the mid-60s. It’s an ideal day to climb and cap the liberty pole and salute the sacrifices and values of colonial Bedford as we approach the anniversary of the battles of Concord and Lexington.
Except we can’t.
For the second consecutive year, the second Saturday in April is just another Saturday, as the Bedford Minuteman Company decided that protocols and policies in response to the Covid-19 pandemic preclude safe outdoor gatherings.
The Minutemen will be making a virtual presentation of their annual Marion Bryan Citizenship Award, presented by the Bedford Minuteman Company, to Bedford High School senior Ryan Doucette. The award recognizes a senior with outstanding community service.
Doucette, the student representative on the Bedford School Committee, is also a reporter for The Citizen. The prize honors Marion Bryan, long-time substitute teacher “who mentored generations to be good citizens.”
According to Town Historian Sharon MacDonald, pole-capping “recreates the pre-Revolutionary War Sons of Liberty flags that first flew to announce a meeting of the rebellious patriots.”
Chuck Hacala, current captain of Bedford’s Minuteman Company, said the company is working hard to keep members invested. “We still have our monthly meetings on Zoom, where we check in and see where people are.”
Hacala noted that recently members of the company in full uniform went to North Bridge in Concord, where they were recorded for a virtual Patriots Day parade to be featured on local TV in Concord.
Sometime on April 19, which is the actual anniversary of the battles, a delegation of Minutemen will place a wreath at Willson Park, in memory of Jonathan Willson. The captain of the Bedford company was the only resident killed on April 19, 1775, shot by the retreating British forces near Brook House in Lincoln.
Pole-capping is an important local tradition, Hacala said, “a special day, a real holiday.” Visiting companies of colonial marchers say the Bedford event is the favorite, he related, because “it’s not a huge parade, it’s just a nice colonial event, and it’s fun.”
Dr. Shirley Kring noted that the Bedford company hosts hundreds of visiting marchers from the region for lunch in the BHS cafeteria before most of them head for Meriam’s Corner in Concord for a re-enactment.
The red cap has remained on the top of the liberty pole during the two years which have passed since the last ceremony.
Kring’s husband, Dr. Roy Kring, knitted it. “Each year we put up a fresh one but this is one we allowed to get weathered. This is the second year in a row, but we have much to look forward to next year.”
Normally, Doucette would be honored during the pole-capping program, accepting a small gift. His name will be added to a plaque in the BHS social studies office; departmental teachers recommend the recipient to the Bedford Minuteman Company.
The award winner also was the student member of the BHS Reopening Committee and serves on the executive board of the national organization Gen Z GOP.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 781-983-1763