(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2014)
As the sound of muskets broke the calm of the chilly spring air historians, elected officials, and local residents celebrated Evacuation Day in Roxbury Monday.
The annual event, dubbed the Evacuation Day Knox Trail Remembrance Caravan, for the past four years has toured South Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester, highlighting places significant to the retreat of British solders from Boston during the Revolutionary War.
“It’s very important that we understand the history of any community we are in,” explained Representative Byron Rushing, who represents portions of Roxbury and the South End and is also the president of the Roxbury Historical Society. “If we don’t understand our history, we can’t really make judgments about our future. It is one of the resources that we need to figure out what we should be doing next.”
Under a blue sky, reenactors and historians shared with the small crowd gathered at the top of Fort Hill, the story of Evacuation Day and the significance of the area and its towering fortification. The Roxbury space was one of a number of fortifications in the city of Boston that not only provided American soldiers with the high ground, but was also a site utilized by Henry Knox, one of the heroes of the Revolution.
“We’re one of the most historic and landmarked sites during the period of the Revolution, so we’re very proud to be the third on a tour of all the sites that helped to keep the British out,” said Representative Gloria Fox, who represents portions of Roxbury and the Fenway. “People need to know how they came to live in a free and open society; it’s based on everybody’s blood, sweat, and tears.”
The tour did not just concentrate on Roxbury, but also swung by the Dorchester Heights Monument and St. Augustine Chapel in South Boston and the Shirley Eustis House in Dorchester. Although history was at the forefront Monday, the event also provided an opportunity to connect neighborhoods that at times have been at odds.
“It’s important to remember the people that came before us, but it’s also important to talk about our shared history,” explained Representative Nick Collins, who represents South Boston. “Because of some of the ups and downs over the last several decades, we get lot in the stuff that divides us and this is a great way to remind people why we need to be unified and why we are unified.”