The Taste of Lexington! Join the Fun!

By Laurie Atwater

Each holiday season the downtown retailers knock themselves out trying to find ways to entice customers away from shopping on the internet and back to the shops and restaurants of Lexington.  While each year sees an up-tick in foot traffic, nothing so far has recaptured the excitement of Lexington holiday shopping events of the past, when the sidewalks were jammed with shoppers, diners, friends and neighbors enjoying the lights and magic along Massachusetts Avenue.

Well, that’s about to change!

This year, if all goes as planned, things may change. The Lexington Mavens in partnership with Lexington’s Chamber of Commerce and the Lexington Retailers Association are introducing The Taste of Lexington, a downtown celebration of local shopping, dining and old-fashioned fun!

The brainchild of Patrice Cleaves and Delilah Atkinson, founders of the Lexington Mavens, the Taste of Lexington is set for December 6th in Lexington Center from 5-9:30 PM!

You haven’t heard of the Mavens? That’s okay. It’s a Facebook group of about 2,200 Lexington women. Patrice says, “We’ve created this vibrant community of women. Delilah and I each handpicked 60 individual influencers across town—they were connectors, and they care about the community beyond their own footprint which was a big thing for me. We asked them to come on board and help us develop the Mavens.” In a short period of time, The Mavens has become quite a force in the community

Patrice and Delilah envisioned the Facebook site as a junction box where all kinds of people can make connections in a protected space. According to Delilah, “What our members love about the Mavens is the ability to go online, get conversations go


ing, receive feedback or advice, and feel involved. The aim is not to be commercial — we don’t make money from the platform — and keep it authentic.  The heart of the group is all about community. Friendships have formed, events have happened that have helped people feel a part of our town.”

The Taste of Lexington event is a logical extension of the Mavens brand. Getting outside the digital space expands and reinforces membership by providing in-person events where members can socialize and share their stories and ideas and get to know each other. “The Taste of Lexington is also based on our founding principles of getting out into the community, getting involved and taking part.  We wanted to create an event that would bring people down to the Center so they can get to know what’s right on their doorstep,” Delilah says.

The women reached out to the Lexington Retailers and the Chamber of Commerce to maximize the success of the event. “We want to create a big event that supports and involves the community and businesses,” Patrice says. “We want to show businesses that we can turn out in large numbers.”

Delilah acknowledges that the retail community has been affected by the shift to online shopping. “The world of click and shop has taken over,” she says, “and as much as we all love the ease and instant gratification, there is something to say for the in-store, restaurant and service experience.”

Eric Michelson, co-owner of Michelson’s Shoe and President of the Lexington Retailers Association, has high hopes for the Taste of Lexington. “The holiday season is so important to the success of our local businesses that we are excited to partner with the Lexington Mavens to promote what Lexington has to offer.”

In the past, the responsibility of coordinating community holiday events has fallen squarely on the shoulders of the Retailers Association and the Chamber. The Retailers organize Trick or Treat and Discovery Day. During the busy holiday shopping season, they are happy to have the help of the Mavens! Eric says, “The Taste of Lexington is a true community event, with local businesses offering discounts and promotions; we hope people will join us and see just how many great shops and businesses are located right here in town.”

The Lexington Chamber of Commerce is also throwing its resources behind Taste of Lexington and enthusiastically embracing The Mavens and LRA as partners. Jim Shaw, Colonial Times publisher and Chairman of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce says, “We are delighted and appreciative that the Lexington Mavens have stepped up to help local businesses this holiday season, and the businesses have responded with significant offers and savings!  This event will bring hundreds of Lexington residents to the Center for an evening of shopping and dining. Many shops are participating and creating their own festive in-store activities.  The restaurant selections are incredible—Lexington has become quite a destination for dining out. People will not be  disappointed.” Shaw stresses that they have also included businesses from outside of the Center. “There will be ‘pop-up’ locations (that will host other Lexington Businesses) like the Historical Society’s Depot Building and TD Bank lobby.

The entire community is invited to the first annual Taste of Lexington. Shops and restaurants are offering refreshments and significant discounts and promotional offers. There will be singing groups on the sidewalks and an incredible sense of holiday spirit up and down the avenue.

If Taste of Lexington is a success, it will be because of the enthusiasm and hard work of these three groups and their desire to make it an exciting evening to share the seasonal beauty of Lexington Center, support local businesses and have fun! Delilah says, “We don’t want Lexington to lose its charm, we want to help it come to life and get residents excited!”


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WWI Poppy Gala Aims to Set Upbeat Tone for Centennial

Oct. 19, 6 pm, Masonic Lodge, 3 Bedford St. Lexington.  Tickets: $125, tables of 8 $1,000.

By Craig Sandler

As the Great War ended a century ago, Lexington shared the world’s sense of relief, hope and joy – and the Lexington Historical Society plans to bring that same spirit to an October gala celebrating the centennial.

The Society’s Armistice Day Poppy Gala, Oct. 19 at the Masonic Lodge on the Green, will take place in the middle of a series of programs and observances to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  The fundraiser is a major source of the revenue the Historical Society must raise to carry out its mission of historical stewardship and preservation, education, and community events.

The poppy theme comes from the central symbol of the “War to End Wars.”  The poppies a young wounded soldier observed on the graves of combat casualties in Flanders Field, Belgium, capture both the mournfulness and resilient spirit that attended the signing of the Armistice, Nov. 11, 1918.

That autumn, as soldiers came marching home to Lexington and across the nation, it was thought the war had opened a new era of peace.  That hope proved false, but the war did give the nation a sense of mission as a global force for democracy and freedom.  And the fall of 1918 was a time of optimism.

That spirit of joy will be nurtured at the Gala, a plated, sit-down dinner, with a series of musicians performing songs that capture the mood of the time in melody.   The acclaimed Lexington High School jazz band will play popular music of the day, followed by Elizabeth and Allie Whitfield, a mother-daughter singing duet.  Pianist Barbara Hutchinson will provide the mood music during dinner.

“We hope to commemorate the centennial from a post-war perspective,” said Erica McAvoy, the Society’s executive director.  It’s not going to be somber.  We want the spirit to be bright, happy and jovial, and we’re hoping people are going to come in, hear the jazz band and catch the tone of celebration.”

At the same time, the Gala is an opportunity for Lexington’s and other local history lovers to support the unique programs and crucial preservation mission of the Historical Society.  Besides dinners tickets ($125), attendees and fans of the Society can buy space in the program book, and messages honoring loved ones and family members who’ve served in the armed forces are welcome.  Sponsorships are also available and will directly help the Society fulfill its mission. Contact Erica McAvoy at (781) 862-1703 or   Besides music and dining, the Gala will feature a silent auction, including airfare for two anywhere in the U.S. and a Portsmouth, N.H., getaway.



Oct. 19, 6 pm, Masonic Lodge, 3 Bedford St. Lexington.  Tickets: $125, tables of 8 $1,000.

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Veterans Day in Lexington

Veterans Day Breakfast

  • Veterans Breakfast, Saturday, November 4, Keilty Hall, St. Brigid’s Church
  • Sponsored by The Town Celebrations Committee in partnership with the Lexington Rotary and the Lexington/Bedford Veterans Services Office.
  • Tickets may be obtained at the Lexington Community Center and Michelson’s Shoes in Lexington Center. Admission is free but a ticket is required.
  • Coffee 8:30 a.m. Program starts 8:50 a.m. Breakfast served 9:00 a.m.
  • Rotary Club members will serve a full breakfast catered by Neillio’s.
  • Complimentary service portraits by professional photographer Dave Tabeling
  • More than 20 door prizes donated by local businesses.
  • For questions on the event, contact Veterans Services Director Gina Rada at or 781 698-4848.


Karen Budnick

Karen Budnick, LICSW, Senior Social Worker and Coordinator of the No Veteran Dies Alone program at the Bedford VA Hospital, will deliver the keynote address at the sixth annual Veterans’ Breakfast on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at Keilty Hall, St. Brigid’s Church, 2001 Massachusetts Avenue.
For the past eight years, Karen has served as the Social Worker at the David James Hospice Unit at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Administration Hospital in Bedford. This unit includes its own dedicated physician, social worker, psychologist, nursing staff, volunteers and chaplain to care for veterans at the end of their lives with dignity, respect and compassion. “There is much suffering and hardship in the world today” Karen says, “and I view my job as helping to alleviate suffering and to bring light, love, peace and harmony to those veterans who are taking their final journey.”
Many veterans arrive at the hospice unit with serious psychic and medical issues – war injuries, PTSD, addictions of all kinds – that in turn have created sadness, loss, anger and separations from their families. As veterans approach the end of life, many yearn to mend these hurts and make peace with their families (and many families want to do the same). The love and support that the Hospice Program, Karen and the volunteers provide to veterans and families helps them open their hearts to forgiveness of self and forgiveness of others, often bringing peace and understanding before the veteran embarks on the final journey.
Karen holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and a Master of Social Work from Yeshiva University.


Veterans Day Parade & Ceremony
Gather in parking lot behind
Police Station 9:30 a.m.
Step off 10:00 a.m.
Inside Cary Hall, 11:00 a.m.

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Lexington Police Toys for Tots – Fill the Cruiser! Saturday, December 10


Bring a New, Unwrapped Toy

Join the Lexington Police and
Fill the Cruiser for Toys for Tots

Saturday, December 10
9AM – 1PM
1735 Mass Ave, in front of CVS

You can fill a little boy or girl’s holiday season with joy!

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The Old Guard Performs in Lexington!

Old Guard Promo

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Patriots’ Day Resources and Activities

24_1_LexVC_WithBuntingLexington Visitors’ Center

Obtain tour brochures, maps and directions to historical sites and events. View diorama of Battle of Lexington. 1875 Massachusetts Avenue, across from Cary Library.
781-862-1450. Public restrooms.


Liberty Ride Tours

Saturday & Sunday 10 am-4 pm
Liberty RideA unique 90 minute trolley tour of the historic Battle Road. Tickets required. Board at the Lexington Visitors Center, 1875 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington Center.




In Their Own Words

7sm ITOW Redcoats Huzzah (2)Performance
Sunday, April 17th 8PM at Pilgrim Church

Developed by Lexington author Rick Beyers, In Their Own Words is drawn from actual eyewitness accounts of the first hours of the Revolutionary War. Costumed actors speak from primary documents – diaries, depositions, letters and sermons. Real-life characters trace the story from Paul Revere’s ride, to the first shots on Lexington Common, through the Redcoats’ bloody retreat on the day the Revolution began.

Parker’s Revenge & Tower Park – Saturday, April 16th


Parker’s Revenge

Lexington Minutemen gather on the Lexington Battle Green to reenact the second call to arms from Captain Parker with additional dialogue from Reverend Jonas Clarke. Following this event the Minutemen will march to Parker’s Revenge site on Route 2A near the Minuteman National Park Visitors Site for a wreath laying. Freewreath laying and musket salute. FREE


Parker’s Revenge Salute

Parker’s Revenge Ceremonial Salute Marrett Road & Old Massachusetts Avenue. FREE
2:00 pm Parker’s Revenge Scenario Battle Road trail behind Minute Man National Park Visitor Center, Rt 2A, Lexington.


Tower Park Battle

4pm Tower Park Battle The Tower Park battle re-enactment starts near Munroe Tavern at 4:00. British and Colonial Reenactors reenact a Revolutionary War battle, using period-appropriate weapons and tactics. Come early for a tour of Munroe and watch the Redcoats prepare. Tower Park is on Massachusetts Avenue opposite Pelham Road. FREE


Battle Green Guided Tours

Battlegreen Guided ToursBattle Green Guided Tours Official Lexington Battle Green Guides in Colonial clothing offer informal tours, history, visitor information and directions throughout the day. Stand where the local Militia faced the British Regulars at sunrise on April 19, 1775. View one of the oldest war memorials in the country where the remains of 7 of the 8 Militia who died on the Battle Green on April 19th are buried. FREE



Hancock Church Annual Patriots’ Day Handbell Concert

Monday April 18th from 11:15am–12pm

Annual Patriots’ Day Handbell Concert of Patriotic and American music The concert is family-friendly and includes music played on 5 octaves of hand bells and 6 octaves of hand chimes, sure to please all ages: jazz by Duke Ellington, American rag, movie music, spirituals, and patriotic songs. Suggested donation of $3 per person to benefit the Russell School in Dorchester after school music program. Hancock Church, 1912 Massachusetts Avenue.


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Patriots’ Day 2016 – Schedule of Events

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CEL Matching Gift Challenge!

CEL ArtTis the season

While there is no shortage of energy and commitment among volunteers in Lexington, often it is a struggle for nonprofit organizations to secure funding for programs that fall outside of the regular town operating budget.

The Lexington Education Foundation (LEF) which is focused on educational initiatives and the Dana Home Foundation, which addresses senior needs, have been successfully increasing funding in their targeted areas for many years However, there are programs that fall outside of the mission of these organizations and for these deserving community-building programs it is too-often impossible to thrive because of funding issues.

To address these unmet needs, a small group of determined volunteers got together and rolled up their sleeves. The result: The Community Endowment of Lexington (CEL), a community fund that provides grants to worthy nonprofit projects in Lexington.


The Community Endowment of Lexington was established in 2013 by three Lexingtonians:  Stephanie Lawrence, Pauline Benninga and Amy Garbis.

Stephanie says, “I was introduced to a couple of women who had children in the schools and they were hearing from their school principals about the increase in requests for holiday assistance from families.” Alarm was also growing in the community about homeless families being housed at a Lexington motel.  At the time Stephanie was also serving on the Lexington Human Services Committee which was experiencing a sharp uptick in requests for emergency services—needs that are addressed through The Fund for Lexington.

It was a challenging time in Lexington and many other communities. Middle class families were under continuous pressure from the financial meltdown and subsequent business failures, personnel trimming and corporate reorganizations. Mortgages were under siege. The insecurity in the economy had a double-whammy effect on non-profits simultaneously increasing need and decreasing resources as donations crashed from both private and corporate sources.

“I knew that most Lexingtonians would be surprised to hear about the significance of the need,” Stephanie says. “We started to talk about what sort of initiative could be put into place that could be effective for Lexington.” They wanted to act quickly. That’s when Stephanie thought of the Foundation for MetroWest. As a nonprofit professional she was familiar with their work. “I thought if we partnered with the foundation we could really hit the ground running,” she says.  They had some “very promising” discussions with the with the folks at MetroWest that increased their enthusiasm for the project. Their first consideration was making sure that any new resource would not be stepping on the toes of existing organizations. “There are public agencies and nonprofits doing wonderful work for the town of Lexington,” Stephanie says.

The women met with Selectman Norm Cohen and the Director of Lexington Human Services, Charlotte Rodgers to learn more about the various programs run through the Human Services Department like The Fund for Lexington, which responds to emergency requests from individuals and families in Lexington for rent, groceries or fuel.

Rather than duplicate effective programs like this one, the women wanted to identify gaps—local nonprofits that might be struggling. “So many organizations frequently struggle to raise the funds necessary to develop their programs and services,” she says.

For organizations that are struggling to thrive in a difficult funding environment, it can make the difference between continuing their important work, or having to surrender when the money dries up leaving their constituencies to scramble.

“The Community Endowment of Lexington is an excellent vehicle to provide grants to local groups that benefit the Lexington community as a whole.  The Fund for Lexington is primarily for individuals and families impacted by financial crises,” explains Norman Cohen.

Left to right are CEL board member Stephanie Wolk Lawrence, current board chair Leslie Zales, and CEL board member Nancy White.

Left to right are CEL board member Stephanie Wolk Lawrence, current board chair Leslie Zales, and CEL board member Nancy White.


After meeting with Norm and Charlotte, the women became convinced that they could create something that would have meaningful impact in the community and they decided to broaden their mission giving them latitude to consider grant applications from a wide variety of organizations. This is the mission statement from their website:

The Community Endowment of Lexington supports programs and services that help make life healthier and more enjoyable for all members of the community in the areas of health and human services, arts and culture, ecological well-being, and community building. It encourages grant applications from nonprofit organizations and public agencies that bring innovative thinking to big issues and small ones.

They ultimately partnered with the Foundation for MetroWest to take advantage of their structure which provides financial management, legal counsel and the guidance of a highly qualified board of directors.

As an endowed fund of the Foundation for MetroWest, CEL is designed to be a permanent, steady source of funding for the town of Lexington. Each year, spending is limited to a designated percentage of the fund, leaving the rest to build for the future. While the Foundation for MetroWest provides fund administration, grants are reviewed and awarded by the Community Endowment of Lexington Community Board.

CEL has so far raised over $300,000 from its Founding Members—34 individuals, businesses,  family foundations and community groups each who have contributed $5,000 or more. The goal of the fund is to build the endowment to $1 million and to concurrently identify and award grants as it is growing.

According to Lexingtonian Janet Kern, Director of Development and Community Relations for the Foundation for MetroWest, the initial goal is to build the fund to $1M as a starting point to be able to deliver $50,000 year of impact annually. “That felt like a very achievable goal in Lexington,” she says. “We certainly hope to grow the fund beyond the $1M mark with future fundraising programs enabling even greater impact.”

CEL has awarded over $50,000 in grants in just two years to nine ono-profit organixations serving Lexington across a diverse spectrum of needs. (Check out the quotes from several grant recipients on pages 16 and 17.)


This season—between now and December 31st, CEL has a very exciting opportunity to increase the size of their fund thanks to two of CEL’s founding members, Leslie and Colin Masson. The Massons have very generously offered to match all gifts made to the Community Endowment of Lexington dollar for dollar up to $100,000!

Current CEL board chair Leslie Zales hopes this short, but significant opportunity will inspire the entire community to come together to help grow this fund and keep it healthy into the future.

“We are incredibly thankful to Leslie & Colin for their ongoing commitment to CEL and this exciting challenge,” Zales says. “This campaign will bring us to the halfway mark of CEL’s ultimate fundraising goal.  The time has never been better to support CEL.  Every dollar counts.”


Double your Gift

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Here Comes the Old Guard

Old Guard at the White House. Courtesy of the Old Guard.

Old Guard at the White House. Courtesy of the Old Guard.


By Digney Fignus

Since I was a kid growing up in Lexington I have always loved Patriot’s Day. It seemed like it was Lexington’s own special holiday, our first official spring celebration heralding the warmer weather to come. Long before it became a state-mandated “Monday” holiday, all the kids in the neighborhood looked forward to April 19th as a day off from school dedicated to parades and old-fashioned fun. It was something that made you proud to be from our little town that usually made the evening news for at least that one day every year. No matter what the weather, Patriot’s Day in Lexington has always been a great time for families to relax and reconnect with their neighbors after the long winter.

This year we’re getting an extra special treat to help Lexington celebrate Patriot’s Day. The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps is coming to town! They will be easy to spot in Monday’s parade with their bright red regimental coats, white wigs, black tricorn hats, and period uniforms dating back to George Washington’s Continental Army. And in a double-dose of good fortune, lucky fans will also get an outdoor concert Saturday, April 19th at 12 noon. This is a must-see event for any fife and drum fanatic. Come early, because there is sure to be a crowd on the Battle Green for this special performance. The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps along with the US Army Drill Team, and the Commander in Chief’s Infantry Guard is a show not to be missed.

Stationed in Fort Meyer, Virginia, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps is unique as the only unit of its kind in the armed forces. Part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, an official representative of the U.S. Army, the Corps averages 500 appearances a year and has performed for millions. They not only appear at all the official White House Arrival Ceremonies for visiting Heads of State, the Corps have been featured performers at every Presidential Inauguration since President Kennedy in 1961. Besides their official functions, the Old Guard has performed at NFL events, NASCAR, the Kentucky Derby, the Indianapolis 500, and the Tournament of Roses Parade — to mention only a few. In addition, they serve as good-will ambassadors and representatives of the United States Army overseas performing at international competitions, known as “tattoos,” everywhere from Australia to Panama.

The Old Guard is at the top rung in the Fife and Drum Corps world. Even though it is an ultra-exclusive group, I was surprised to find that anyone can audition for an open position. There are only 69 members in the Corps. Openings are few, so if you are lucky enough to be asked to Washington to audition for a spot, you’d better be good. The Corps uses 10-hole fifes, handmade rope-tensioned drums, and single-valve bugles which according to their website “bring to life the exciting sounds of the continental army.” Only the best musicians get a chance to audition. Although they are currently full-up, last year there were openings for a bass drum player, a fifer, and a bugler. So keep rehearsing, it’s a great gig if you can get it.

I had a chance to talk with Corps member, Staff Sergeant Heather Tribble, a fife player and eight-year veteran of the Old Guard. She is one of many men and women who join the army specifically to serve in the Old Guard. She reflected, “I was performing in a Fife and Drum Corps at the EPCOT Center in Florida. There were a lot of ex-military in the group, and I found out about the auditions from them.” If you pass the audition, only then do you need to commit to the army. After you go through normal basic training you have a guaranteed spot in the Old Guard. Unlike some jobs in the military that require a lot of moving around, people tend to stay put in the Old Guard. It affords the soldier-musicians and their families a little extra stability, a chance to develop long-term relationships, and an opportunity to put down some roots.



Old Guard at FDR Memorial. Courtesy of the Old Guard.

Old Guard at FDR Memorial. Courtesy of the Old Guard.

Being a musician myself, the more I talked with Sergeant Tribble the better the Corps sounded. I was tempted to start practicing my own big bass drum to see if maybe I could get an audition for one of those coveted open spots in the band. Unfortunately, I think the geezer-factor might kick in if I started competing with the rest of the mostly 18-year-olds in basic training. I wish I’d found out about this dream job sooner. Imagine, 500 guaranteed shows a year! All that, plus military benefits, and a steady paycheck? Obviously, I made a mistake when I decided to learn to play guitar instead of the fife.

The Fife and Drum Corps is a real family. A bass drummer with the unit, Sergeant Scott Danley sums it up, “The kids don’t just have a mom and dad, they get 60 aunts and uncles too.” Sergeant Danley, an eight-year veteran with the Corps, is a native of Alabama. He joined the Fife and Drum Corps in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Scott had just finished his tour of duty with the Marines. He served from 2001 – 2005 playing the tenor drum in the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps. He reminisces, “I had always thought the Fife and Drum Corps was a re-enactment group. But just before my enlistment was up with the Marines I attended a twilight tattoo on the ellipse by the White House in Washington. I saw those rope drums going to town. I’d never seen that style of drumming before.” Danley was so impressed with the musicianship of the performers that when he learned there was an opening for a bass drummer in the unit, he knew he had found his calling. He consulted with his wife and with her blessing sent a video audition tape to the selection committee, hoping to re-enlist with the Army Old Guard. To his disappointment he didn’t make it the first time.

After his enlistment was up in the Marines, the ex-soldier and his family returned to civilian life back home in Alabama. Things couldn’t have been worse. It was only a few months after Katrina, homeless refugees had flooded the area, and housing was nearly impossible to come by. The family was in a real quandary when Scott’s wife noticed that almost a year after Scott had been turned down, the army was still auditioning for the bass drum position. In Scott’s words, “My wife suggested I try to audition again and I told her ‘they don’t want me’ but she said I should give it another try. This time I got called to Washington to do a live audition.” On his second try he passed with flying colors. He laughs, “It’s funny because the first tape I recorded was in a big hall and the second tape I recorded in my living room!”

Last year, along with many other programs, the Old Guard was a victim of the government sequester. They were originally scheduled to perform during Lexington’s 300th Anniversary celebration. Unfortunately, because of the untimely budget limbo, they were not able to attend. Thankfully, this year they’re back and better than ever, and they’ll bring along some very special reinforcements. The Fife and Drum Corps is a real spectacle, colorful, precise, and extremely well-tuned. The 69 members of the Corps are usually deployed in marching groups of 21 soldier-musicians, a Drum Major, and support staff. This allows the Old Guard to perform at multiple locations and more than one show at a time. Look for the drum major as a quick way to tell the Old Guard from the other ceremonial Fife and Drum Corps marching in the Patriot’s Day Parade. He will be distinguished by his tall black leather hat covered in bear fur (a light-infantry cap), a white leather sash (called a baldric), and a long 18th century infantry officer’s weapon called an espontoon that he carries to issue silent commands to his marching Corps.

Old Guard at Pocono 500. Courtesy of the Old Guard.

Old Guard at Pocono 500. Courtesy of the Old Guard.

The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps perform a diverse repertoire of traditional field music. Drawn mostly from the 18th and 19th century, it includes familiar favorites like “Yankee Doodle,” and Fife and Drum Corps standards like, “Washington’s Artillery March,” the “Downfall of Paris,” and the “Duke of York’s March.” In addition, according to the official website, “performances include a breathtaking drum solo that is a real show of professional dexterity.” With just two opportunities to see them Patriot’s Day weekend, new converts and hard-core fans are sure to be left wanting more.

Along with the Fife and Drum Corps, the Commander in Chief’s Infantry Guard is also coming to Lexington’s Patriot’s Day weekend celebration. They are the infantry version of the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. They dress in traditional Continental Army blue and generally accompany the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps as a support group for parade and pageantry performances. They will be marching in Monday’s parade as well as appearing at the Battle Green on Saturday. Created in 1784, the Infantry Guard is another part of the 3rd Army Infantry Regiment. They hold the distinction of being the oldest active infantry in the United States Army. It only seems fitting that they assemble on our Battle Green on April 19th to honor the hallowed ground where the first shots were fired in the American Revolution.

Besides the Fife and Drum Corps and the Infantry Guard, Saturday’s event on the Battle Green includes a special appearance of the US Army Drill Team. As official good-will ambassadors, the Army Drill Team puts on a spectacular show. They expertly perform choreographed routines with bayonet-tipped 1903 Springfield rifles. Tossing around the heavy rifles with death-defying precision, these highly trained specialists are guaranteed to wow the crowd with their daring and complex maneuvers. Balancing vintage weapons with razor-sharp steel blades is no easy task. Courage, dedication, coordination, and a dead-calm demeanor are all necessary requirements before being admitted to this talented group. It’s a tough competition for a spot in the squad. According to the Drill Team’s Mission Statement, “Soldiers are selected for this elite unit after six months of rigorous and competitive drill practice. Trim military bearing, strength, and dexterity are mandatory prerequisites for qualification to the Drill Team. For those selected for the team, the rigors of training never stop. To execute their complicated routines as close to perfection as possible, the team practices constantly.” The routines are far too dangerous to be done while marching so the Drill Team will only be performing Saturday at the Battle Green and will not march in Monday’s parade. Take my advice and mark your calendars for noon, April 19. You don’t want to miss this show.

The Corps fact sheet proclaims, “The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps is America in retrospect – rekindling the ‘Spirit of ‘76’ in today’s Army.” So don your tricorn hat and take advantage of the opportunity to see this uniquely talented and entertaining group of the Army’s finest on Saturday and Monday during Patriot’s Day weekend.


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Harvard Historian Jill Lepore to Speak in Lexington

Jill Lepore

By Judy Buswick

This March, Lexingtonians will be delving into the story of America – a chosen theme investigating how American writers have impacted our history.

Whether it’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow or “Poor Richard’s Almanack” by Benjamin Franklin, a story and a backstory are there for the reading. Seeking to probe American history as part of the 2013 Lexington Reads program, the book suggested for a community-wide reading is The Story of America: Essays on Origins (Princeton University Press, 2012) by Harvard historian Jill Lepore. Filled with essays meticulously researched and thoroughly documented, yet first appearing in “The New Yorker” sans footnotes, this latest book by Lepore ties original works with today’s understanding of them, showing us many literary works that have affected Americans and American history. Fiction and political speeches are both analyzed. Stories range from 1607 and the lies or truths told by John Smith about the founding of Jamestown, up to the 2008 inaugural address of Barack Obama, who said, ”This union may not be perfect, but generation after generation has shown it can always be perfected.”

Opening the Cary Library series of programs on “The Story of America” theme, Professor Lepore will speak on Saturday, March 2, 2013, at 8 p.m. at Cary Hall (1605 Massachusetts Ave., next to the police station), about how American democracy is entwined with the history of its publications. Sponsored by the Cary Lecture Series and supported by the Cary Memorial Library, this special event will offer a preview look at Lepore’s upcoming book (Book of Ages), due to be released in September. The title of her program will be “Dear Brother: The Life and Letters of Benjamin Franklin’s Sister.” Free tickets have been mailed to all Lexington households; additional tickets are available at the Town Office Building or Cary Memorial Library.

Speaking by phone, Lepore explained that her Cary Hall lecture had been drawn from her research on Jane Mecom, Benjamin Franklin’s younger sister. As the youngest son and the youngest daughter in a family of 13 children, these two were close and wrote extensively to one another over their long lives. “They were both great letter writers,” noted Lepore. Actually, the prodigious Franklin wrote more letters to Jane than to anyone else, Lepore added. In the 1930s and 1940s, it was historian Carl Van Doren who collected the letters of both Jane and Benjamin; thus, “He saved her story,” praised Lepore. Van Doren won the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for his biography Benjamin Franklin (Viking Press, 1938). As Lepore will explain in her lecture, Jane had a difficult life, out-living 11 of her 12 children and struggling with poverty. When Franklin provided her with a house in Boston’s North End on Unity Street, she was proud of her own home and took great care of it, acknowledged Lepore. Knowing her beloved house would be looted, Jane was forced to flee Boston after the Battle of Bunker Hill. Sadly, this house, the only property Franklin ever owned, was demolished years later to improve the sightlines along the Paul Revere Mall. The house and another identical home next door were built by the brick maker who provided bricks for the Old North Church. The brick maker’s house still remains and might someday become a destination for tourists seeking Franklin’s presence in Boston, surmised LePore.

In The Story of America: Essays on Origins, Lepore examines Franklin’s earliest writing, including Poor Richard’s Almanack, and mentions that in 1767, before Franklin had signed the Declaration of Independence, “his sister Jane asked him for a copy of everything he had ever published. ‘I could as easily make a Collection for you of all the Pairings of my Nails,’ he answered.” Lepore pointed out that few have written more or done more than Franklin to shape the history – the story – of America.

Lepore writes, “Democracy in America was not established with the stroke of a pen, in 1776, when members of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence.” Our form of government “was neither inevitable nor swift,” she states. As the stories in Lepore’s book show, with each President or “contest of opinion” came new interpretations and new written insights. Her book includes chapters on Charles Dickens and his visits to America, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his friendship with Charles and George Sumner, Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and many other fascinating writers from our past. Many writers interweave through chapters helping link the stories about our literary influences. Speaking about her separately written essays, Lepore noted that she wrote them “because I wanted to try to explain how history works, and how it’s different from politics.” When compiled, they add up to a new look at American history, a view that is more than the sum of the parts.

The last chapter focuses on inaugural speech writing – from that of George Washington to Barack Obama’s first speech. President-to-be Garfield, like most Presidents, read the inaugural speeches of those before him, confiding in his diary how difficult was the writing task. Lepore confides, ”Reading Lincoln left James Garfield nearly speechless.” He considered not even trying to write such an address for fear he wouldn’t succeed. The problem with a political speech’s content, length, poetry, hyperbole, and rhetoric come under discussion pertaining to particular presidents. Readers will find not only some insights on the content and political intent of written inaugural addresses, but also such personal tidbits as who was “the first inaugurée to wear pants instead of knee-breeches” (John Quincy Adams); who was first to give his speech on television (Harry S. Truman); who first broadcast the speech on the Internet (Bill Clinton); and who was first to be “YouTubed” live (Barack Obama). This final chapter of the book is representative of the engaging content that will lead to discussions on many levels. Invoking LePore’s last line, “Enough said.”

Jill Lepore has had a fair share of literary success. Since 1998, she has authored seven non-fiction books and co-authored a novel. Her book New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan (Knopf, 2005) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. Since 2005, she has been a staff writer for The New Yorker. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and many scholarly reviews.

Besides being a professor of American History at Harvard, she is the chair of Harvard’s History and Literature program, which offers an innovative and rigorous approach to interdisciplinary scholarship by teaching writing and critical thinking skills that are invaluable in any profession. The Cambridge resident serves on the boards of the National Council for History Education, the Society of American Historians, and the National Portrait Gallery.

Copies of Professor Lepore’s book, The Story of America, will be on sale at the Cary Hall lecture. The author will attend the library’s annual Lexington Reads Book Discussion Brunch on Saturday, April 6th at 10 a.m. where advanced registration is required.  For more information, stop by or call Cary Library: (781-862-6288 x250).


Judy Buswick is the author of a quilter’s biography (Sally Palmer Field, New England Quilter). See Judy’s Website at

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