REMEMBERING DANIEL SHAYS
In this town, on this same spot,
on Sunday morn, a road of tears
we stand here to commemorate
though distanced by two hundred years.
'Twas here that Shays did meet his end,
was "routed and surprised," they say,
by Lincoln and his hired band,
but who was the hero of that day?
After the war that they had fought
to set us free, and consecrate
the rights of folk of ev'ry class,
they found their own hour had grown late.
Home they came after the war,
farmers to their farms again,
but debt and taxes plagued the way,
and rebel hopes began to wane.
Their lives were placed upon the block,
to debtors prison they were sent.
And farms? All foreclosed upon,
by courts on legal cruelty bent.
Shays' greatness turned on a single word.
"No," he said, and took up arms,
marched on and closed the courts he did--
now wasn't that the lesser harm?
Shays and his men marched these roads,
from Amherst on to Petersham;
"Law and order!" Boston cried,
but Shays did cry, "the Rights of Man!"
To all those who admire Shays,
his pluck, his courage, and his nerve,
consider the moral of this tale,
that law the people's needs must serve.
To the rich, too, if there must be,
another lesson his'try doth give,
their fate and wealth are best secured
when the poor too are allowed to live.
We thank you Pelham for this son,
who in Petersham did make his stand,
but remember too, all's still not well,
and the spirit of Shays stays on the land.
So to Petersham, this final plea,
please take the monument, on this day,
of plywood not of granite stone,
to mark our past in a different way.
On the occasion of presenting an alternative
monument to the Town of Petersham, Ma., to
commemorate the bicentennial
of Shays' Rebellion.
February 4, 1787-February 4, 1987
All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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