Hello! Kayley here, stationed at Boston National Historical Park and Boston African American National Historic Site.
While I have been living in Boston for about five years now, I have never really explored the Charlestown area. Yes, the same “Town” from all those strong Boston-accented movies about robberies and Boston pride that somehow always involves Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Although many tourists and Boston locals still look across the Charles River and see a place of crime and Irish-Boston families, the neighborhood of Charlestown is now considered to be one of the nicest places to live in the city of Boston. There are million-dollar condominiums along the river and renovated brownstones for the wealthier citizens of Boston.
A tradition that continues even with all the changes happening in the “Town” is the Bunker Hill Monument parade and commemoration. Boston National Historical Park has two of its three visitor centers, the other is at Faneuil Hall downtown, here in Charlestown. One is the Charlestown Navy Yard Visitor Center that is most associated with the USS Constitution and USS Cassin Young.
The other is at the Bunker Hill Monument and Museum. All are easily found along the Freedom Trail, a red-brick line embedded in the sidewalk that allows visitors to guide themselves around Boston’s revolutionary and freedom-related historic sites.
The Bunker Hill Monument, an obelisk standing at 221 feet and 5 inches (corrected by our YCC intern, Rafael, to add the 5 inches), is situated right in the heart of Charlestown and has become a symbol for the community. The Battle itself took place mostly on the nearby Breed’s Hill but on June 17, 1775 the British were victorious against the colonists. Although the colonists lost the battle, it resulted in a large number of casualties (almost half) for the British and a morality boost for the American colonists.
As mentioned before, the commemoration and parade have become a tradition. The parade just celebrated its 30th year and the commemoration of the Battle of Bunker Hill began with the Marquis de Lafayette laying the cornerstone of the Monument on June 17th, 1825. That date was no random day, it was the 50th anniversary of the battle. I had the opportunity to attend the 240th anniversary on June 17th, 2015. The Navy and Park Service were present along with organizations and associations related to Bunker Hill and the Charlestown community.
Our new Superintendent gave a short speech about the Park’s commitment to preserving the history of the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Often at historic event celebrations, the Park will have reenactor volunteers do presentations. At this celebration we had a musket demonstration, monitored by Ranger Bill Casey.
At the end of the multi-day celebration around Charlestown and Bunker Hill, you can feel the Boston pride flow through the community just as it was during the Revolutionary war and during the popular culture “Town” era.