A Word a Week Challenge: Silhouette

The challenge this week hosted by A Word in Your Ear is silhouette.  Having just recently rediscovered photos I took in the late 1990s during a trip to Boston and New York City, I chose to submit one of those “lost” photos for this challenge. Silhouetted against a cold November sky is the famous statue of the colonial militia man, or Minute Man,  at the North Bridge, Concord, Massachusetts.

Minute Man, Concord

On April 19,  1775, British troops marched from Boston to Concord, intent on destroying ammunition and ordnance and arresting troublesome colonial leaders.  After a brief fight with colonists at dawn in the town of Lexington, British troops were met at the North Bridge on the road to Concord by colonial militia who were given the orders to fire back at the troops.  American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson’s  1837 poem “Concord Hymn” immortalizes the battle as “the shot heard round the world.”   The Minute Man statue was dedicated in 1875 at the centennial celebration of the battle which began the American Revolution.

Concord Hymn

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.


For more beautiful silhouettes, see


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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Nice silhouette — especially the way the sun catches the barrel of the gun.

    Over the past 8 years I’ve discovered most high school kids in Texas don’t know this poem, nor its companion (in my mind), the “Ride of Paul Revere.”

    I hope students and teachers find your photo to use in presentations (and I hope you won’t mind if they do).



    1. Thank you very much. No, I don’t mind at all if students and teachers use this. I had to memorize this poem when I was in school. Come to think of it, I had to memorize the Gettysburg Address and part of the “Ride of Paul Revere” and many other works that students no longer even study. When I was teaching high school full time, an English teacher and I coordinated our curriculums so that students would read the poetry and other literature that coordinated with what they were learning in my History class.


      1. Ed Darrell says:

        I found it useful to use “Paul Revere’s Ride” for several purposes.

        There are enough stanzas that you can get through an average sized class with everyone reading one. You hear the students’ reading abilities (and I smoked out some powerful problems that way). Students also learn to pay attention to other students.

        Almost every stanza has a word that somehow escapes the Texas TEKS (and maybe Common Core). Every time turned into a strong vocabulary lesson.

        The use of metaphor — like the masts of the British warship as jail bars, holding Boston captive — are instructive on their own, but lend a much more powerful understanding of the events to students; was delighted one year when several kids told me of an error the District tests had on the 3rd Amendment, which we had only discussed in that poem’s reading at any length. Boy did they learn that.

        I usually use maps of Boston, Boston Neck and the Harbor, which leads to a deep discussion of urban development and sprawl if you’re not careful. The thought students put into geography, and the differences in warning routes required had the British marched down Boston Neck, more fully developed the geographical understandings (“choke points” in Texas, among other things — which tied it back to Thermopylae in one discussion, and how Spartans might have differently dealt with the British).

        And then there’s the powerful tie in to the Civil War in the last few lines, teeing up that difficult-for-high-school-kids period between the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

        And, finally, it flowed naturally into “Concord Hymn.” That poem was 23 years earlier than Longfellow’s, but the concept of the importance of the American Revolution in world history is a too-often distantly-nebulous one for high school students, and it’s summed up in those six words, which become brilliantly clear to students when you follow Paul Revere with the next morning’s battle at the bridge.

        Just a heckuva couiple of poems for myriad reasons.

        My last year at Molina an assistant principal wandered in on one of the toughest classes, with kids following along and asking great questions. Next day I got a terse note: “Poems not in U.S. History standards.”

        I pointed out that lines from two poems were specifically mentioned — that one and “the shot heard ’round the world.”

        They’re killing the teaching of history, and understanding.

        When I was a kid, we had that Minute Man profile on our student insurance forms; there were cutouts, and almost always photos in our social studies books next to the poem. In temperature-taking at the first of the year, I’d have entire classes unfamiliar with the image, unable to relate it to any event in history, sometimes missing the era by 200 years.


      2. Honestly, I don’t think students learn any history in elementary school anymore. There’s no foundation set, and then they get to high school and in my state have football coaches for history teachers. My full time work always was at independent high schools because whenever I applied at public school for a History position, I found out they really wanted a coach. I’m at a public high school now, but it’s a charter school with classes at night and no sports program. 🙂


  2. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for providing the historic information of the statue.


    1. I’m a history teacher, so I was compelled to include it. 🙂


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