Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino delivers final July Fourth speech at Faneuil Hall

On his last Fourth of July as mayor of Boston, Thomas M. Menino hailed the city’s contribution to America in a speech at historic Faneuil Hall.

“The idea of America started in our city. We see reminders of that every day,” Menino said, referring to the city’s historic sites, such as the burial grounds of patriots Sam Adams and John Hancock. “It is my hope that days like the Fourth of July [inspire] people to do more to recall our freedom. I hope the seeds of freedom, liberty, justice and equality that were planted here take root everywhere.”

Menino also referred to the Civil War battle of Gettysburg, which just marked its 150th anniversary, in his remarks, delivered this morning in the Great Hall of Faneuil Hall,

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“One hundred and fifty years ago yesterday, Union forces, those brave men in blue, won the Battle of Gettysburg,” Menino said. “In doing so, they turned the tide of the Civil War, and helped preserve an idea launched in Boston — this country should have a democratic government with liberty and equality for all.”

Menino, 70, who has held office for 20 years, will retire in January as the city’s longest-serving mayor. He has presided over the city’s Fourth of July celebrations ever since he was elected.

“It is a pleasure to be here, to celebrate our great country and to wish you all a Happy Fourth of July,” Menino said, gazing out to a crowd of hundreds who filled City Hall Plaza for a 9 a.m. flag-raising ceremony. “Today is much more than barbecues and a long weekend. It’s about honoring America, our values, and our ideals.”

The flag-raising was the first of several that included the Faneuil Hall speech, a parade onto Tremont Street to visit the burial sites of Adams and Hancock, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence in front of the Old State House.

Menino, who still uses a brace to walk after surgery in April to repair a broken leg, skipped the parade and reading this year.

Delivering the annual Independence Day Oration at Faneuil Hall, Menino paid tribute to guest speaker, Tom Grilk, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the Boston Marathon.

“Tom demonstrated great leadership on April 15 and the weeks that followed,” Menino said, referring to the bombings at the Marathon finish line by two alleged terrorists. “He represents the spirit of One Boston, and shares my belief that we will have the biggest and best marathon ever next year.”

Menino was interrupted by lengthy applause from hundreds in attendance. “We will not be afraid to celebrate our city, our country, our diversity and our people,” he said.