The celebration of the Battle of Bunker Hill is a week-long festival in our community that began this past Sunday and will be highlighted this coming Sunday with the annual parade. It is an event that has been observed for hundreds of years in Charlestown and is enjoyed by residents of all ages.
Although the Battle of Bunker Hill occurred 240 years ago, we should take the time, as we walk along the site of the battlefield with our families, to pause and remember the incredible bravery displayed by our forefathers who engaged the British Army regulars on June 17, 1775.
The rag-tag group of colonists who twice-thwarted British attacks showed that belief in a cause could overcome overwhelming odds. While the battles of Lexington and Concord basically were skirmishes by guerrilla bands, the Battle of Bunker Hill (which actually was fought more on nearby Breed’s Hill) was a pitched battle.
The British generals figured that they easily could dislodge and rout the unorganized colonial militia from their fortifications. But by the time the smoke had cleared after three attacks, the British would suffer more causalities, and the loss of more officers (who no doubt did not take the colonists seriously as they led the attacks), than in any singe battle of the Revolutionary War.
Although the British ultimately won the day when the colonists ran out of ammunition, it proved to be the ultimate definition of a Pyrrhic victory — the British won the battle, but their huge losses proved to the world, including the Americans and the British themselves, that the Americans had the ability to win the war.
Bunker Hill is a living battlefield. Souvenir collectors still can find musket balls on the ground where blood was shed by ordinary Americans whose courage and bravery that day sounded a clarion call for freedom and democracy that still resonates around the world 240 years later.
So let’s enjoy the festivities this week and hope for good weather, but let’s also remember the sacrifice made by those whose actions on June 17, 1775, made our nation what we are today.