A shot heard around the world

Do we stroll through life wondering if we are making a difference? Are there times we make a significant contribution completely unaware! We just returned from Boston walking the “Freedom Trail” taking time to learn about our American history. I want to share a story I learned about a young man who I think may have never known the significance of his involvement. His name was Edward Garrick.

At thirteen years of age, Edward worked as an apprentice for a wig maker. Not what we may think of today, but the hairdressings that were typical of those seen on our Founding Fathers. At this time,  Edwards town had been taken siege by British troops with nearly one in five residents being a soldier for the King of England. Many colonists were growing tired of and frustrated with the insurgency.

It was a cold winterlike evening on March 5, 1770. A blanket of snow covered the ground with ice exposed here and there offering little stability for navigating the streets. Edwards boss had created a wig for British Captain who by coincidence was walking with friends and crossed Edwards path in front of the Customs House on King’s Street. As they passed, Edward confidently said, “There goes the fellow that won’t pay my master for dressing his hair.” Hugh White, a Private standing as Sentry in the doorway, overheard Edwards comment and defended his Captain as he walked off without reaction. Edward quickly delivered another insult which sent the guard into a rage. In the heat of the moment, he swang his arms and hit Edward with the butt of his musket, dropping him to the ground. Edward shook off the pain getting up off the ground and ran home bleeding from his forehead. From home, he had no idea of where this interaction would lead.

Perhaps under different circumstances, this would have been nothing history would have ever reported. But with the tension that existed in the community, it caught the attention of bystanders. These local colonists defended the thirteen-year-old throwing snowballs at the guard. It was the custom of the time that if the church bell rang while no service was scheduled, it likely meant there was a fire. Someone began ringing the bell which brought more people into the streets wanting to help unaware of the incident. Hugh White’s superior came with other guards and stood at the doorstep as more gathered in the street. History differs on what happened next with some suggesting the leader sought to calm the outrage as others feel he ordered engagement. Regardless, the Soldiers eventually shot their guns into the gathering of colonist instigating the Boston Massacre.

Who would guess this blameless comment from a thirteen-year-old boy would become the rallying cry of the Revolutionary War for the Colonist? Did Edward ever know “the foundation of American independence was laid” the night these shots rang out in Boston! His actions were a result of his courage to stand for his belief. For answering the call of his heart at a time others may have passed.

As we catch ourselves wondering if our life’s journey is meaningful, understand this is human. Let me assure you that you have value and your contribution will be magnified through your willingness to act on the impulses from your heart. Granted—we may never know—but that’s okay.


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