MOORHEAD — A holiday adopted in North Dakota last year could be on its way to Minnesota if supporters and Fargo-Moorhead residents Jim Shaw and Clyde Allen get their way.
A year after a bill to establish Patriots’ Day passed with overwhelming support in North Dakota, Shaw and Allen — natives of Massachusetts, where the holiday is widely celebrated — are hoping to bring the celebration across the Red River.
They pitched the idea to state Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, and the senator drafted a bill to establish the holiday in his state.
Patriots’ Day is a holiday celebrated on the third Monday of April to commemorate the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775. It is celebrated in five states: Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Wisconsin and North Dakota.
“It would be great for it to become a holiday for those of us who live in Moorhead,” Shaw said. “I don’t want this to just be a Fargo event, I’d like it to be a Fargo-Moorhead event. That would really make it a stronger commemoration in this part of the world.”
In Massachusetts, where the holiday originated in 1894, Patriots’ Day is a government holiday and it kicks off a week-long break from school. There are parades and reenactments of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and the Boston Marathon has been run on the holiday every year since its inception. But this year the marathon had to be moved to September due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I always loved Patriots’ Day growing up,” Shaw said. “And I didn’t know it was not a national holiday until I went to college in Chicago. I looked at our syllabus and I saw that we had an exam scheduled for Patriots’ Day and I asked the professor ‘How can you have an exam scheduled for Patriots’ Day?’ and he said, ‘What the heck is Patriots' Day?’”
Shaw and Allen aren’t proposing quite so widespread and costly a celebration for Minnesota. In fact, the greatest appeal to Shaw is the fact that students will be in school, unlike Independence Day which happens during summer vacation. And there would be no cost to taxpayers.
“We want to educate, first and foremost, students in school and use that as a day where in school they are taught about the Revolution and the birth of our country,” Shaw said. “The other chance to do that would be Independence day but that is during the summer when they aren’t in school. It’s a day to learn about the birth of this nation.”
The first Patriots’ Day celebration in Fargo has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. There were plans to have a ceremony at the Fargo-Moorhead Air Museum put on by the United Patriotic Bodies of Fargo-Moorhead followed by a showing of the 1985 film “Revolution” starring Al Pacino and Donald Southerland at the Fargo Theatre.
"It would have been fun to celebrate our new holiday, but we just can’t do that at this time with the circumstances," Shaw said. "That’s just the world we’re living in right now."