Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Bunker Hill Day!

Bunker Hill Day—June 17—is a doubly dubious observance. First, as every Bostonian can tell you, the battle was on Breed’s Hill, not Bunker Hill. Secondly, we lost! One does not customarily celebrate one’s defeats, but in the case of Breed’s/Bunker Hill, it is understandable, for it marked the first American resistance that put in question British victory in the War. Surveying the heavy Red Coat losses British General Sir Henry Clinton said, “A few more such victories would have shortly put an end to British dominion in America.” General Clinton was paraphrasing the Greek general Pyrrhus who, according to the ancient writer Plutarch, won battles but at such high cost that he nearly ruined himself.

In Boston, America’s passion for Independence is seen, touched, heard, and smelt in our Old State House, the Old South Meeting House, in the steeple of Christ Church in the North End, and in scores of other sites along our Freedom Trail. Laugh and call them “hack holidays,” but don’t forget the individual men and women who struggled for freedom, for that is why we set aside special days of remembrance and observance.

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