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COLUMN: Boston's History Comes Alive

Bennet's Banter

Asst. Metro Editor

Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014

Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2014 01:02

When you’re a kid, you grow up hearing stories about the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and John Adams. With nicknames like the Hub, Beantown, the Athens of America, the Walking City, and Titletown, you know that this city is something special.

This is Boston—one of the oldest cities in the U.S., and home of the Red Sox, Paul Revere, and seafood to savor.

What makes Boston special is not just its sports, chowder, or 60 colleges and universities. Boston is set apart by its rich history.

When you’re sitting in your American history class listening to Mr. Grossman lecture on the Revolutionary War, not much comes to mind. You can read about the events or see pictures of them in textbooks, but you’re not really experiencing the rich history from halfway across the country.

Coming to Boston changed my view on history. I was no longer reading a dry textbook full of statistics about Boston. Instead, I am walking the same streets as America’s founding fathers, and this is experiencing history.   

Earlier this week, I made a trip to the Commonwealth Museum. The museum is publicly funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and it is located in the State Archives Building. The museum is also right next to the JFK Library and Museum and is just a short hop off the T’s red line.

What’s special about this museum is that it hosts some of Massachusetts’ greatest artifacts that protect our liberty, including the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780–the oldest constitution in America–and even original copies of the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. The museum brings these stories to life in its interactive exhibits.

While I was strolling around the museum, I noticed a young boy and his mother looking at the original copper plate engraved by Paul Revere depicting the Boston Massacre. What surprised me was that the boy was fascinated by the plate enclosed behind temperature-controlled glass.

With his face pressed up against the glass, the boy smiled and yelled, “Mommy look! This is the plate I was reading about. It is so cool.”

If you’re like me, you like to see things directly in front of you. My childhood propensity has followed me into adulthood. There is something about the tangibility of a newspaper, book, map, or letter that makes it seem all the more real holding it in your hands. I can read a biography about JFK or a summary about Paul Revere’s midnight ride, but that experience is less meaningful to me than going to walk the Freedom Trail or visit the JFK Museum.

The young boy at the Commonwealth Museum felt a wave of joy when he saw Paul Revere’s plate. His excitement was palpable, as he was thrilled to see the tangible copper plate that he read about in his textbook that has been around for hundreds of years, since our beginning days as a nation.

Similar to the little boy, most people like seeing things right in front of them. If you’re at Fenway Park watching the Red Sox beat the Yankees, you’re in the same shoes as Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. If you’re walking the Freedom Trail in downtown Boston, you’re seeing buildings like the Old State House that have been around since our beginning roots.

There is so much history around us that Bostonians take for granted. Go out and truly experience some of the buildings and artifacts that make our home one of the most historic cities in America. Ranging from Paul Revere’s house to the USS Constitution museum and even Faneuil Hall, there is so much history within our grasp.

You just have to take a step outside.

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