|By Rick Winterson
Mayor Thomas Menino presented gifts to Michael Bare, in recognition of his long service to the South Boston community. Bare served as President of the South Boston Citizens’ Association for years, and was instrumental in establishing Evacuation Day as a major South Boston observance.
In an informal ceremony in his office last Wednesday, Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino presented Michael Bare with gifts, in recognition of Bare’s many years as a South Boston community activist.
The event was relaxed, which befitted the hottest day of the year. Bare was accompanied by his wife, Pauline. Several of his friends from the City also attended – Michael Kineavy, Anthony Gilardi, Tom Tinlin, and Joe Rull. Much of the event was devoted to a warm conversation among people who knew each other very well. At the close of the ceremony, Mayor Menino presented Bare with a Revere bowl and a giclee print of Norman Crump’s oil painting of Dorchester Heights.
Over the past dozen years, Bare has been extremely active in the South Boston Citizens’ Association. He served as its President for six years until the spring of 2006. “One of my proudest days,” said Bare, “Came when I was named President of the Association.” Much of his effort in leading the Citizens’ Association involved the history of South Boston, and the role it played in the Revolution.
Among his many accomplishments was the recreation of Henry Knox’s cannon train that led up to the original Evacuation Day, the installation of numerous historic markers in South Boston, and the discovery of the role Fort Independence played in the Prince Hall Masonic lodges. Bare also emceed a weekly South Boston show on BNN TV.
During a subsequent interview with South Boston Online, Bare reminisced for a while.
His interest in South Boston’s history began when he entered a historical essay contest in the sixth grade. This led to his volunteering for school history projects over two summers, and it eventually led to his efforts to celebrate March 17 as Evacuation Day as well as Saint Patrick’s Day. After all, it was Washington’s first major victory in the War for Independence, not to be matched until the end of 1776 at Trenton.
Bare also fostered local interest in Henry Knox, the bookselling boy from Boston, who rose to become Washington’s Major General of Artillery and his trusted strategist. Knox was not only an “unsung hero” in the Revolution, but also, he lived his last years in Thomaston, Maine, which was named for John Thomas, the Commander of Dorchester Heights.
“If you would see his monuments, look around you.” as the saying goes. Bare spearheaded the Cannons for the Castle project. Seven barrels now look northeastward from the parapets of Fort Independence; there are four more to go in the lower embrasures.
He established Fort Ticonderoga as a kind of South Boston “sister city”, after he met Fort Ti’s Director Nick Westbrook during the Medal of Honor Concert. Bare now has been appointed an Associate in the Fort Ti organization – quite an honor.
One of Bare’s fondest memories took place this year at Sidewalk Sam’s painting of “Washington on Dorchester Heights”, at the foot of the park stairs. Two hundred Perkins School students marched up wearing T-shirts that asked, “Why do we celebrate Evacuation Day?”
Bare’s historical activity goes on. He has become an honorary member of the Henry Knox Masonic Lodge. One of his projects is legislation to have July 25 officially designated as Major General Henry Knox Day in Massachusetts. He intends to set up a heritage committee, which will continue historical preservation and recognition. A source of particular pride to him is his success in bringing together diverse factions and neighborhoods to commemorate the priceless Revolutionary War history in and around South Boston.