We all have them – memories, that is. Though some may fade with the passing of time, many of our precious recollections of the past stay with us for a lifetime. This truth was emphasized to me several years ago when, on a local radio station, I listened to what I believe to be one of the most beautiful and haunting secular songs I’ve ever heard. It brought tears to my eyes then, not so much for any memories it stirred in me, sad to say, but for the depth of emotion projected by the man who was singing it. His name is John McDermott, and he was the founder of the famous singing group known as “The Irish Tenors.” I urge you to enter “John McDermott YouTube” on your search engine and click on the video of his performance of “The Old Man” (with lyrics), a beautiful song he sang in memory of his father. You will see, and hear, a truly special performance, I assure you. It still brings tears to my eyes whenever I watch it.

John was born in Scotland, but his family moved to Canada when he was ten, and he’s a citizen of that country. The words and music were written by Phil Coulter, and I trust it will affect you as it did me:

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Old Gran Army Burian Ground - Boston. Grave of Christopher Seider and 5 patriots kille din the Boston Massacre is to the left of Samuel Adam's grave.
Old Gran Army Burian Ground - Boston. Grave of Christopher Seider and 5 patriots kille din the Boston Massacre is to the left of Samuel Adam's grave.

In part 1 of this foray into almost forgotten colonial history, we explored the tensions that had arisen over a period of several years over the hated Townshend Acts, laws enacted from the far away British Parliament which placed taxes, or increased tariffs, on many goods imported from Great Britain. Tax protests soon erupted throughout the British American colonies, none more intense than in and around Boston, in the British colony of Massachusetts. It was in one of these “angry mob” protests, on February 22, 1770, that 11-year-old Christopher Seider, who had involved himself (accidentally or on purpose—no one knows), lost his life and became to be considered by his countrymen as the first martyr for the cause of American freedom.

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The Guardian on 31 Mar. 2007 - Photograph taken March 27, 2007
The Guardian on 31 Mar. 2007 - Photograph taken March 27, 2007

I’ve been to Boston, Massachusetts several times, and aside from the horrid traffic, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each visit. Great food, especially at the Union Oyster House and Durgin Park restaurants, and lots of one of my favorite subjects: History. My wife and I have walked “The Freedom Trail” through Boston each time, and each of our “treks through history” has taken us to Old Granary Burial Ground, which is full of the graves of the famous (Paul Revere, John Hancock, Sam Adams, James Otis), and the not-so- famous of our early history. One grave marker in that ancient cemetery has always intrigued me, for carved on it are the names of five people whose deaths have been well documented by history. They are the five Bostonians who were killed by British soldiers at the infamous “Boston Massacre” on March 5, 1770, which occurred in front of the Old Statehouse Building. It is the 6th person that usually eluded my attention, the death of whom might have been THE catalyst that ignited our American Revolution.

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When, in the course of human events, one person is privileged to share another person’s dreams and goals, that person should count himself or herself very fortunate, for dreams and goals are the stuff of progress, the fuel of all human achievements and, the basic ingredients of what separates humankind from the lower species. Dreams and goals are the proven “building blocks” of all human liberty and have been ever since the first person raised his gaze from the fearful boots (or sandals) of some “strong man” or “tyrant” in the ancient past and, looked upwards toward the heavens and proclaimed that his (or her) freedom to be, to resist, to dare to “vision,” to set goals, to plan for a better future, was just as important – nay – was MORE important than the goals, or plans, or threatened repression of that strong man—that tyrant – or that repressive collectivist government under which he was forced to live.

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