Dorchesterâ€™s state Senate delegation split last week in a vote on whether to eliminate Evacuation and Bunker Hill Days, holidays that are recognized only in Suffolk County. Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain) voted to remove the two days as holidays, while Sen. Jack Hart (D-South Boston) led the charge to keep them.
The close vote, which failed to eliminate the two special holidays, came as part of a Republican-sponsored amendment to the Senateâ€™s version of the fiscal 2012 budget.
Bunker Hill Day commemorates the battle of Bunker Hill in June; Evacuation Day celebrates the British forces evacuating Boston after they had laid siege to the city during the American Revolution. Evacuation Day follows St. Patrickâ€™s Day. But the two holidays have also gained notoriety as â€œhack holidays,â€ drawing criticism from some because they are limited to state government employees within Suffolk County.
â€œSpecial days of rest, special days of recovery after St. Patrickâ€™s Day. Thatâ€™s really what it is,â€ said Sen. Michael Knapik, a Westfield Republican. Chang-Diazâ€™s office, in a press release on her budget votes, noted that her vote for the holidaysâ€™ elimination was part of her â€œ[c]ontinuing her commitment to reform state government and maximize every taxpayer dollar.â€
Hart accused Republicans of â€œcatering to some of these radio talk show hosts.â€ â€œWe need to respect our history, in that if we eliminate these holidays today, whatâ€™s next?â€ said Hart, who hosts the annual St. Patrickâ€™s Day breakfast, which features politicians gently â€“ and sometimes not so gently â€“ roasting each other.
â€œWhy donâ€™t we get rid of Thanksgiving? Why donâ€™t we think of getting rid of Christmas?â€ The amendment was one of several offered up by the five-member Republican minority and rejected by Senate Democrats.Â