What is Bunker Hill Day?
Bunker Hill Day is an official holiday in some parts of Massachusetts. Some state employees in Masachusetts, including many in Boston, the state’s largest city, get the day off from work, and schools and local groups commemorate the battle of Bunker Hill with parades, receptions, and other events.
Every June 17th, the people of Boston and Suffolk County, where the battle that launched America’s war for Independence took place, take time out to remember that battle, to honor those who died, and to celebrate America’s freedom.
To celebrate Bunker Hill Day, many people will visit the Bunker Hill Monument in Suffolk County. Lines to get into the monument on this day are especially long, and the adjacent museum is packed with people learning the story of the famous battle and the subsequent war with England. The 2.5 mile Freedom Trail, which winds its way through some of the more historic spots related to the dawn of our country, is another popular destination of Bunker Hill Day.
Besides the expected celebrations — parades, short plays, and barbecues, there are many battle re enactments staged in Boston proper and its suburbs. People come from around the country to participate in these re enactments — where you can find people dressed in authentic costume, firing blanks at rival armies, and pretending to be period farmers and tradesmen while the fighting rages in the background. Re enactments are particularly interesting to students of history, and if you’ve never seen one, Bunker Hill Day is a perfect time to become familiar.
Bunker Hill Day is also a popular time to volunteer at celebrations, or even to take on a major project, such as cleaning up the city of Boston and its surrounding towns, or simply making a cash donation to organizations that protect that city’s rich history. After all, even national monuments need help with cleanup and maintenance from time to time.
There is some controvery beginning to stir this year around Bunker Hill Day. Every citizen of Boston or Suffolk County who works for the state government gets the day off, and everyone who works for the city of Boston can claim that reward as well. Not only do they get the day off, but it is a paid vacation day. The people of Boston are angry about the nearly $5 million tab that results from this celebration, especially considering that the Bunker Hill Parade itself, the one sponsored by the state government, takes place on the weekend before Bunker Hill Day. Many are wondering — isn’t that celebration enough?
This year, an attempt was made in the Massachusetts state legislature to cancel these days off considering the troubling economy. Unfortuantely for those who were angry about paying for a day off for state workers, that legislation failed to pass, thanks to a deadlocked 75-75 vote.
It is likely that the debate over Bunker Hill Day will continue into next year, and as taxpayers get more vocal in their opposition to this paid vacation day for state employees, their representation in the state legislature will likely follow suit. Enjoy this year’s Bunker Hill Day, state employees — it may be the last one you get to celebrate at home.