History was the theme Saturday as South Boston residents and local politicians commemorated Evacuation Day.
Celebrated on March 17, Evacuation Day is a way for Suffolk County residents to remember the day the British Army evacuated Boston during the Revolutionary War.
South Boston plays a very special part in the day, because the fortification of Dorchester Heights convinced the Red Coats that it was best to retreat, a story not lost on those who attended Saturday’s ceremonies.
"Sometimes when you live in the middle of history you overlook it,” said Congressmen Stephen Lynch. “This is a precious time to remember.”
The event started off at the St. Augustine’s Chapel, the oldest Catholic Church in the Boston Archdiocese, and then members of the Lexington Minutemen led the procession along Dorchester Street to the Dorchester Heights Monument.
“This is an extremely important day for both Boston and the United States,” said Bill Poole, the First Lieutenant of the Lexington Minutemen. “A lot of people forget their history and the sacrifices that were made to obtain that freedom and liberty. We want to make sure they know their history.”
The minutemen fired off their rifles from the top of Dorchester Heights, waking up neighbors and reminding them what happened at Dorchester Heights hundreds of years ago.
“This is a great day in American history,” said Bob Allison, president of the South Boston Historical Society, as he stood with the Dorchester Heights monument to his back. “It was from this position that the British were forced to leave. From this position we can see the formation of the United States.”
While history was the focus Saturday, the next generation, South Boston’s students, were also awarded prizes for their Evacuation Day posters and essays.
In the high school essay contest, Mary Rose Maiullari of the Boston Latin School took first place, Julie O’Donnell took second and Caroline O’Donnell took third.
In the middle school essay contest Zachary Levy of the St. Peters Catholic Academy took first, Lauren McCarthy of St. Peters Catholic Academy took second, and Cathy Smyth of St. Peters Catholic Academy took third.
In the poster competition Liz Smyth of the South Boston Catholic Academy took first, Kaleigh Flaherty of the St. Peters Catholic Academy took second, and there was a three-way tie for third, between Sean Loftus of the South Boston Catholic Academy, Laura Wallace of the South Boston Catholic Academy, and Grace Tinlin of the South Boston Catholic Academy.
After students eagerly shook hands with politicians and received their cash prizes, State Senator Jack Hart spoke.
“Let’s not take this for granted and let’s continue to teach our children about the history of this day,” said Hart.
To commemorate the day and those who fought on top of Dorchester Heights, elected officials and members of South Boston's civic associations laid a wreath at the monument to honor those who fought for the country.
And like the history of the day and the remembrance of it, ceremonies didn’t end Saturday in South Boston. After the ceremony, politicians, history buffs and residents made their way to Fort Hill in Roxbury, to remember the crucial role that the fort played, in fortifying the cannons before they went to Dorchester Heights.
(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com2012)