Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge Dedication Events Set For October 3-6
The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, whose graceful cables and towers outline the city's newest civic monument to liberty and justice, will be formally dedicated in a series of events Oct. 4 followed by a public walk on the bridge Oct. 6.
Making the announcement today were Gov. Jane Swift, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Chairman Matthew J. Amorello, Joyce Zakim, wife of Lenny Zakim, State Representative Gene O'Flaherty of Charlestown and a group of business leaders serving voluntarily on the bridge dedication committee.
Zakim was the regional director of the Anti Defamation League of New England for 20 years and a nationally recognized religious leader who devoted his life to building bridges among racial, religious and ethnic groups to secure justice and fair treatment for all citizens. The dedication day events will pair his life's work with the nearby Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown, site of a historic battle for freedom and liberty.
"The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is setting a wonderful precedent in naming this bridge after Lenny Zakim and the citizens who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill," Gov. Swift said. "I am proud that we are celebrating the ideals of patriotism, freedom and diversity by dedicating this bridge in their honor. May this remind us all of the difference that one person's decision to stand up to injustice and fight for freedom, respect and diversity can make in the lives of others and in the history of our nation."
"This celebration will serve as a unique tribute to Lenny Zakim and the Bunker Hill patriots. Both stood tall in the face of injustice, held their ground, and fought for liberty and freedom," said Turnpike Authority Chairman Amorello.
"Boston has always been a world class city and this certainly is an incredible, world-class new bridge," Mayor Menino said of what is the widest cable-stayed bridge ever built. "The dedication of the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge will showcase the diversity and the unity of race, religion and personal background that exists in Boston today because of the work of community leaders like Lenny Zakim and because patriots fought long ago in Charlestown to make our country independent."
The celebration will begin with a reception on October 3 at the Museum of Science honoring those who oversaw the construction of the bridge. Oct. 4 will feature a series of community events including a youth program and march, a non-denominational prayer service and a bridge dedication ceremony. A public walk on the bridge similar to the walk on Mother's Day will take place on Sunday, Oct. 6 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Performing at the dedication ceremony will be The Children's Bridge Festival Chorus, a powerful 300-voice choir of children ages 8-14 amassed from some of the best children's choruses in the Boston area and conducted by maestro Grant Llewellyn, Music Director of the Handel & Haydn Society. The Children's Festival Chorus will perform a song commissioned specially for the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge dedication and composed by Andy Vores, one of Boston's best composers. The Children's Festival Chorus performance marks the debut of a new arts institution, the Boston Children's Festival Chorus, whose mission is to create social change in Boston through children and music. The Chorus hopes to demonstrate to the entire city of Boston the power and excitement of children from diverse backgrounds, united in a music-making community, building another symbolic bridge to unite our city.
Included in the October 4 events will be the announcement of the Leonard Zakim Bridge Builders Award, to be presented annually by each of the Commonwealth's twelve district attorneys beginning next year. Each district attorney will convene a selection committee that will be made up of the following categories of community leaders: business leaders, clergy, educators, minority groups, civic organizations, municipal and government leaders, legislators and students Awardees will then be selected for their outstanding contribution to efforts to build bridges of understanding between different ethnic, racial and religious groups within the region served by the District Attorney's office.
"Lenny lived by the belief that each of us has a moral responsibility to make the world a better, more inclusive and respectful place for all people," said Joyce Zakim, the wife of activist Lenny Zakim. "He worked tirelessly to build personal bridges between our city's diverse people and neighborhoods. He would be so proud to know that this magnificent structure will stand as a symbol of unity, hope and respect for all Bostonians," she continued.
For the past six months, a committee consisting of business and community leaders has worked to raise money for the events and to ensure that the celebration represents the ideals of liberty, respect and diversity symbolized by Zakim and the Bunker Hill patriots. The Bridge Dedication Committee is co-chaired by Peter Meade, Executive Vice President of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and Arthur Winn, CEO of the Winn Companies, who are working with a diverse group of local and regional community leaders.
The Battle of Bunker Hill, fought in 1775, was one of the important early moments in the Revolutionary War. Despite the overwhelming British force of several thousand troops arrayed against them, 400 American colonists fought bravely to defend Charlestown and the city. The battle became a rallying point of resistance against the British.
The 10-lane, 180-foot wide bridge will carry traffic on I-93 across the Charles River. The bridge's north tower is 330 feet above the ground, while the south tower rises 295 feet above ground. The obelisks atop the two inverted Y-shaped towers resemble the nearby Bunker Hill Monument. Traffic is expected to start moving across the bridge on I-93 northbound starting either late this year or early next year.
During his tenure as ADL Regional Director, Zakim co-founded the Team Harmony Foundation, an annual program that initiated the largest ever gathering of students of different backgrounds to fight bigotry and hatred. He also supported the creation of the international A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute Program, which will serve as the basis of the Dedication Day Youth Assembly. Honored by national and international leaders for his work, Lenny Zakim lost his battle with cancer in 1999 at age 46.
The Central Artery will be opening the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge one final time to pedestrian traffic on October 6th to celebrate the dedication weekend:
Event: Public Bridge Walk
Place: Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge
Date: Sunday, October 6, 2002
Time: 11:00a.m. - 4:00p.m.
Description: Ceremonial ribbon cutting and bridge walk for the public.