The Monument to Sacco and Vanzetti that Never Saw the Streets of Boston
Boston, July 15, 2007. In 1997 (exactly August 23) a 10-years younger Thomas Menino received as Mayor of Boston a relief of Sacco and Vanzetti sculpted by the famous author of the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial depicting the first 150 years of independent history of the U.S. with the likeness of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. The artist's name was (John) Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum.The massive project in Mt. Rushmore sharply contrasts with the 7-foot size of the Sacco and Vanzetti relief that reads:
"What I wish more than all in this last hour of agony is that our case and our fate may be understood in their real being and serve as a tremendous lesson to the forces of freedom, that our suffering and death will not have been in vain."
Curiously, as pictures of the 1997 event at the Boston Public Library depict, Mayor Menino was accompanied by the Republican Acting Governor Paul Cellucci. Clearly what moved Menino and Cellucci beyond their political affiliations and positions as elected official was their Italian-American background and a sense perhaps that history reminds us all that the persecution of immigrant workers today, it has happened throughout many years in the past also.
An article written by Leslie Miller for South Coast Today pointed the fact that "a memorial committee tried to present the artwork to governors of Massachuseetts and to mayors of Boston in 1937, 1947 and 1957." Twenty years before Mayor Menino accepted the sculpture, in 1977, Gov. Michael Dukakis had issued a proclamation that cleaned the names of Sacco and Vanzetti and established that they had not received a fair trial.
However, like the many mysteries that surround the Sacco and Vanzetti case, witnesses and pictures indicate that the original relief produced by Borglum was cast in bronze. Yet, what lies still at the Boston Public Library is a plaster caste. The whereabouts of the bronze sculpture is unknown. An aluminum replica of the relief also exists at the Community Church of Boston, in Copley Square.
Curiously, in January of 1999 an article in the Boston Globe City Section announced that "A small patch of land in DeFillipo Park on Hull Street likely will be the site of a memorial to Sacco and Vanzetti, Italian immigrants executed in 1927 for the murder of a paymaster and guard during a robbery in Braintree in 1920.
Members of the Sacco and Vanzetti Memorial Committee met recently with Parks Commissioner Justine Liff, who told them she had no objections to a memorial in the city-owned park that includes basketball and handball courts and a playground. The next step for the committee, said parks department spokeswoman May Hines, is to submit a written proposal, or concept paper, to the Parks Commission which has final approval.
Organizers hope the memorial will be completed by August, in time to observe the 72d anniversary of the executions."
That memorial committee headed by businessman Matteo Gallo and Bill Verdi estimated that the project would cost about $50,000. However, they didn't mention that the monument would be the Borglum relief presented to Menino and Cellucci in 1997.
The Sacco and Vanzetti Commemoration Society intends to revive the memorial project and will meet with Mayor Menino to request information about the original intention of City Hall to install the sculptured relief in Boston. By all means, we will continue to work to finally make this ellusive monument a reality.