Bunker Hill Monument

Charlestown
MA

Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown


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With groundbreaking on 17 June 1825, fifty years after the event, an obelisk commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill and the fallen militia General, Dr. Joseph Warren. A statue of Colonel William Prescott, one of the battle leaders, stands in front. Located across the street from the monument is the Battle of Bunker Hill Museum. It includes dioramas, murals, and artifacts, including a masonic apron belonging to Dr. Warren and the trowel used by Marquis de Lafayette for the groundbreaking. Part of the Freedom Trail™.

As students of Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau are always reminding us, the age of reason was really an age of sentiment. In this too, Washington was a man of his age. When he established the first general decoration in the American Army, the Purple Heart, it was not (as it became in the twentieth century) an award available to all soldiers wounded in the line of duty. Only privates and noncomissioned officers could win the original Badge of Military Merit, a cloth-shaped heart sewn over the man’s actual heart, which allowed him to pass all guards and sentinels which officers are permitted to do. The symbol was not of heart’s blood shed, but of virtue proceeding from the heart. Limiting the award to nonofficers was meant to indicate that great virtue can be shown regardless of rank — that in Washington’s words, the road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is thus open to all.

Garry Wills
Cincinnatus: George Washington & the Enlightenment (1984)