Boston locals and curious bystanders alike corralled into the elm tree enclosed Granary Burying Ground in Downtown Boston on May 10th to commemorate Massachusetts hero and industrialist Paul Revere, 200 years after his death on May 10, 1818.
Born in the North End and renowned for his midnight ride to signal to the American militia of the approaching British forces, Paul Revere served as a prominent industry man. As a successful silversmith, supplying the likes of the Massachusetts State House dome and the USS Constitution war ship with brass, Paul Revere was a pillar of the community.
The day opened darkly. A grey mysterious sky overcast with rain threatened. I found myself standing in the Granary Burying Ground solitude with the Boston metropolis rumbling in the periphery. While so employed in the somber countenance of the Burying Ground, in poured members of Paul Revere Memorial Association, carrying a cheerful harmony forward with them.
Revolutionary war reenactors, clad in the 18th century continental army garments, drummed and fluted in their customary way up to the much plodded gravesite of Paul Revere, leading other members of the association—including Paul Revere’s fourth great-grandson, Paul Revere III—USS constitution colorguards, and the grand master of masons in Massachusetts, Paul Fulton Gleason.
Opening the ceremonial wreath laying, Nina Zannieri, executive director of the Paul Revere House Association, shared her personal story of how she felt she should undertake her position as the director of the Paul Revere House.
“When I was first hired into the position … I felt like I should check in with Paul … [T]he only place for me to do that was the Granary. So, I came to the Granary, and I don’t know what I expected,” Nina said. “And I said, ‘well, Paul, here I am’, and nothing bad happened so I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to go back and start working,” she joked.
At this point, the day started rallying. The sun gleamed through the lofty European elms, bringing a levity not unfamiliar with the animated Boston spectators. Such sights and scenes as this makes one wonder if Paul Revere himself was appearing before us.
After a thoughtful and insightful obituary by Paul Revere House Research Director, Patrick Leehey, from which we learned of Paul Revere’s benevolence and outstanding civil service, I managed to get a hold of Nina Zannieri, inquiring on what this commemoration, or Paul Revere in general, can teach the modern audience.
“Well, Paul Revere was a layman. He was not rich by any means and was not formally educated, but through his labor and determination, managed to leave a lasting legacy. He was not only the trusted messenger of the revolution, but a serviceman… and a good one.”
And with those words bells rang 83 times at noon, once for each year of Revere’s life, across the city including his own Old North Church in Boston’s North End.