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July 11, 2013
Fourth of July Well and Truly Observed
By Rick Winterson


Colonial marching is a family affair in Wilington on the Fourth of July.

Although hazy, hot, and humid, the 2013 Fourth of July was an ideal day to observe and celebrate our independence.  A few distant (and illegal) fireworks greeted the sunrise on Thursday morning. 

The Ancient and Honorable Artillery, accompanied by the Middlesex County Volunteers and colonial marching units from Billerica and Wilmington, formed up in front of City Hall.  The Stars and Stripes were solemnly raised to the National Anthem.  The march commenced from City Hall Plaza to the Old Granary Burial Ground, where tribute was paid at the graves of James Otis, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Peter Faneuil.  Musket fire punctuated each salute.

The Parade then wound its way ‘round through downtown along Washington Street and gathered at the balcony of the Old State House, overlooking the site of the Boston Massacre.  The Declaration of Independence was slowly read to the crowd, its ending punctuated by cheers and a shower of confetti.  This is a tradition going back to colonial days – Thursday, July 18, 1776, to be exact.  Would you believe that America’s source document takes only 14 minutes to read aloud?  Thomas Jefferson really knew what he was doing when he wrote it.

Mayor Thomas Menino led the flag-raising ceremony at 9 a.m., and then went back to his office to prepare his remarks of the Oration in Faneuil Hall.  Regrettably, he was still using his cane, so he was unable to take part in the Parade.  At Faneuil Hall, he spoke of how much he would miss Boston’s future Independence Day celebrations.  The Mayor will be long remembered for his actions during and after the Marathon Bombing – he, Gov. Patrick, and others quickly established One Fund Boston and he kept the City going after this tragic event.  “Boston Strong!”

The USS Constitution performed her annual sail-by and 21-gun salute to Fort Independence, which was viewed by a crowd that numbered several thousand.  And there was time for lying on the beach, in the sun, or in the shade.  Despite the celebration, conversations often turned to the bombings and to our determination to recover from them with America’s freedoms unscathed.  The freedom we have in America is not only a mighty engine of opportunity, it is also so unique in history that it is imitated, at least in part, by every other democracy in the world.

That evening of the Fourth, the Concert and Fireworks on the Esplanade came home to Boston.  The festivities were not nationally televised.  The music was local; Keith Lockhart’s Boston Pops filled the air with patriotic music; the fireworks were glorious.  The entire spectacular took just three hours.  It was non-stop enjoyment, whether you were there or watched it at home.  Certainly, all Bostonians owe David Mugar a loud, grateful shout-out for conceiving and funding this celebration.  Did you realize this was the 40th Independence Day Event on the Esplanade he has sponsored?  Yes, it all started in 1973, back when Arthur Fiedler was the Conductor of the Boston Pops.

And in case one forgets, July 1 to 3 in this Year of 2013 was the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, perhaps the greatest infantry battle the world has ever seen, before or since.  It would take another full article to even scratch the surface of this battle’s significance to the United States, so for now, South Boston Online will simply conclude with the final words of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:  “ … this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” 



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