Embrace, celebrate Evacuation Day

Sunday is the day of the South Boston St. Patrick’s/Evacuation Day Parade. The fate of this year’s parade was in doubt right up until this week as city officials and parade organizers grappled with the still-imposing snow and ice banks left behind by February’s relentless storms. By Wednesday, though, with temperatures eclipsing the 60-degree mark and lines out the door at Sully’s on Castle Island, it was clear that the parade will proceed as planned, although it will follow a shorter route than normal.

The parade – it should be noted – is a celebration not only of Irish-American culture, but also of the momentous victory of colonial forces in the long siege to free Boston from British occupation in 1776. The liberation of the city was an early and rare victory for the American independence movement. In forcing the British to the sea, Bostonians reclaimed their homes and the colonies moved that much closer to nationhood.

In our own times, Evacuation Day is too often overlooked, even belittled by those who regard it as a “hack holiday.” That is to our shame. More so than any religious or ethnic holiday, this is day on the calendar that all Americans — and especially Bostonians— should embrace and celebrate as our own.

Recently, the History Channel aired an entertaining, three-part mini-series that recounted – in highly-dramatized fashion – the years leading up to American independence with Boston as the central setting for the show entitled, “Sons of Liberty.” There were frustrating omissions – including the amazing story of how Washington and his lieutenants outmaneuvered the British from Dorchester Heights. And yet, the series succeeded in getting a new generation interested in these now centuries-old events. For that reason, we can say, “well done.”

Still, accuracy matters. We hope that young Bostonians, in particular, will read Peter F. Stevens’s account of what really happened on Dorchester Heights in early 1776. Since school will be in session this March 17 – a consequence of the many school cancellations last month – perhaps teachers and principals will see fit to share the story with their pupils. It’s one that every Bostonian should know and cherish.

A Mass will be celebrated at St. Augustine’s Chapel on Dorchester Street beginning at 9 a.m. on March 17, followed by a re-enactment at Dorchester Heights by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, the South Boston Citizens Council, and local elected officials. The Dorchester Heights event will begin at 10 a.m.

Dot Day Essay Contest

The Dorchester Reporter is proud to sponsor the annual Dorchester Day Parade Essay Contest each year. The contest is open to Dorchester students in grades 6 to 8 and the top two essay writers – as chosen by the Reporter staff – win gift cards for their work. The two winners will be announced at the Dorchester Day Kickoff and Meatloaf Dinner on Thurs., March 26.

Here is this year’s topic: “In 500-700 words, explain why you do or do not support the idea of Boston hosting the 2024 Olympic Summer Games. Current plans call for Dorchester to host both the Olympic Athletes Village at Columbia Point and a number of equestrian events at Franklin Park. If you write in support of the idea, explain how the games would benefit Dorchester specifically. If you write in opposition, please outline specific reasons based on impacts to our neighborhood.”
Essays must be submitted to the Reporter by email by March 20. They should be sent to newseditor@dotnews.com.

The kickoff dinner will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at First Parish Church on historic Meetinghouse Hill. The traditional meatloaf will be served by Gerard’s Adams Corner restaurant. Tickets are $15 for adults, $7 for kids and $30 for a family of four.