Here at 4Patriots – and maybe at your home as well – we consider every day Patriots’ Day.
But it’s nice to have that annual, official designation today, April 19. Massachusetts is the “home” for Patriots’ Day, but it is also celebrated in a few other states. Including Maine, Wisconsin, Connecticut and North Dakota.
The Massachusetts designation dates back to 1894. That’s when the Lexington Historical Society petitioned the state legislature to proclaim April 19 as “Lexington Day.” The city of Concord petitioned for “Concord Day.”
Governor Frederic Greenhalge compromised by declaring this day “Patriots’ Day.” Now an annual event, it commemorates the Revolutionary War Battles of Lexington and Concord. As well as the Battle of Menotomy.
Re-Enacting Lexington & Concord Battles
In Boston, normally the Red Sox host a game on this day with a late morning start. That’s so fans can then watch part of the Boston Marathon.
This year, only the Red Sox game will be played. The 2021 Boston Marathon has been rescheduled for October 11 due to the pandemic.
Maine became the second state to recognize this holiday, in 1907. More recently, Connecticut, Wisconsin and North Dakota got on board.
Back in Massachusetts, battle reenactments are conducted at Lexington Green in Lexington, Massachusetts. And at the Old North Bridge in Concord the day before Patriots’ Day.
2013 Boston Marathon a Painful Memory
As joyous as Patriots’ Day is, it’s difficult to think about without recalling the horrific 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Around mid-afternoon that day, two homemade pressure cooker bombs detonated near the finish line. Three people were killed and hundreds injured.
Fortunately, in addition to the horror stories, there were inspiring survival stories from this tragic event.
They included some of the 17 people who lost limbs. Three of whom lost both limbs.
A Nearly Fatal Car Crash
And that’s what I want to focus on today. Survival stories. Here’s one that’s almost unbelievable.
Angela Hernandez was driving her SUV on Highway 1 in Southern California in 2018. She swerved to miss a small animal and lost control. Her car went off the road and off a cliff. It fell about 200 feet to a rocky beach.
Her numerous serious injuries included a brain hemorrhage, fractured ribs and a collapsed lung. A multi-tool helped her escape from her vehicle. But it was several days before the 23-year-old Oregon resident was found by hikers.
They gave her water and called for help. Rescuers used ropes to rappel down the cliff and evacuate her to a hospital. Miraculously she survived her seven-day ordeal.
Aborted Lunar Mission
Many of us have seen the film Apollo 13. It depicts the incredible, true-to-life survival story of the three-man crew aboard the ill-fated lunar mission in 1970.
The moon’s surface was the intended destination for Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Hayse. But faulty wiring ignited an oxygen tank, blowing out part of the spacecraft and aborting the mission.
The crew made 1½ days’ worth of food for two people last four days for three individuals on the trip home. The lunar module provided safety for them in space, but it could not survive the re-entry.
They moved back into the command module for that phase. Somehow they successfully made it back to the ground unharmed. Other than dehydration.
Sole Survivor Plunges Thousands of Feet
Just a year later, Juliane Koepcke also had the flight of a lifetime. She was one of 86 passengers on LANSA Flight 508 that was struck by lightning in Peru.
The deadliest lightning strike disaster in history killed all six crew members. And 85 of the passengers.
The plane exploded. But the 17-year-old survived after falling thousands of feet while strapped in her seat. The jungle canopy cushioned her fall. She suffered only a broken collarbone, a cut on her arm and a swollen eye.
She followed a stream for nine days before locating shelter. Loggers found and rescued her.
Trapped Swimmer Stays Alive
Much more recently – last month, as a matter of fact – a 43-year-old Florida woman survived a nightmare.
She had been swimming in a Delray Beach canal when she opened a door that led to a series of tunnels.
She decided to do some exploring, but got lost. She ended up in a drainage ditch near a busy road.
Somehow she survived for over two weeks. After someone heard her scream, fire rescue officials pulled her out of an eight-foot deep storm drain.
Pre-Teen Survives Plane Crash and Mountain Descent
Eleven-year-old Norman Ollestad Jr. was thrilled when his father told him they’d be taking a trip to a skiing event at Big Bear Mountain in Southern California.
But when his dad’s Cessna crashed into the San Gabriel Mountains, his father did not survive. That left Norman and his father’s girlfriend to fend for themselves at an altitude of 8,200 feet.
They had to descend the mountain in order to be rescued by helicopters. But the woman slipped down the chute to her death.
Nine hours after starting his descent, the boy made it to the bottom of the mountain and was rescued.
Even if your state does not recognize Patriots’ Day, take a few minutes today to reflect on our independence and our will to survive. We’ll never let anyone take those things away from us.