BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Monday, April 15, signed a proclamation marking the adoption of Patriots' Day as a holiday in North Dakota and the moment was highlighted with a ceremony held in Bismarck.
The North Dakota Legislature earlier passed and Burgum signed a bill making North Dakota one of five states that acknowledge Patriots' Day as a holiday. The others include Massachusetts, Maine, Wisconsin and Connecticut.
Patriots' Day commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord, which were the first battles of the Revolutionary War.
The legislation, which was introduced by Rep. Austen Schauer, R-West Fargo, was largely the brainchild of Jim Shaw, a former broadcast journalist who is now a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.
Shaw, a native of Massachusetts, has celebrated Patriots' Day for decades, and he said he hopes it will become a moment when people in North Dakota stop and consider the Revolutionary War, those who fought in the war, and the birth of the United States.
Shaw was emcee of Monday's ceremony and wore a period costume for the occasion.
He said one of the things that made the day special was a performance by the Bismarck Century High School Patriot Marching band, which played patriotic numbers during the ceremony.
Another fun aspect of the day, he said, were the patriotic signs that his wife, Jackie, made and put on display for the event.
Schauer said he was pleased with Monday's ceremony and the new holiday.
"Like anything else, it takes a team effort to be successful in getting legislation passed," Schauer said.
"Patriots’ Day is all about education. Maybe it’s my age and having nine grandchildren, but I am passionate about our kids knowing what it took to birth a nation," he added.
The Revolutionary War started on April 19, 1775, so Patriots' Day is observed on the third Monday in April.
The first Patriots' Day was proclaimed by Massachusetts Gov. Frederic Greenhalge on April 19, 1894.
Shaw said he wasn't sure whether Monday marked the first official Patriots' Day in North Dakota, or if that will be next year.
Either way, he said he's glad North Dakota has joined the small group of states that acknowledge the holiday.
North Dakota's Superintendent of Schools Kirsten Baesler said Monday that Burgum's proclamation was in keeping with the state Constitution's emphasis on promoting a "high degree of intelligence, patriotism, integrity and morality."
She said students in North Dakota are required to pass a national civics exam in order to graduate from high school.
"Remembering and honoring the principles upon which this nation was founded is a critical step in teaching the next generation of young people the value and importance of good citizenship," Baesler said in a statement.
The bill establishing Patriots' Day in North Dakota received unanimous support in the state Senate and passed the House with only two no votes, Reps. Rick Becker and Sebastian Ertelt, both Republicans.
Becker said Monday he usually votes no when it involves commemorating a special day, time period, or person.
"I don't like resolutions that are congratulatory. We just need to focus on what's necessary to do for the people of North Dakota, and I don't like all these resolutions," Becker said.
"It's not that I'm angry about it or anything," he added. "I'm just taking the position that let's just focus on the stuff that we actually are supposed to be doing here."
Ertelt echoed that sentiment, stating his objection had nothing to do with the subject matter of the holiday.
"To me, it was a feel-good piece of legislation," he said, adding he felt it wasn't necessary to have a Patriots' Day when the Independence Day holiday was so closely related.
"I didn't see the need for another holiday," Ertelt said.