THE TRAGEDY IN DEDHAM
The case of Sacco and Vanzetti, which began as the prosecution for a commonplace if brutal murder, developed gradually into one of the world's great trials. In the end it was much more than a trial. It became one of those events that divide a society. Although the issues that it raised have been overlaid by war and political events, they never wholly die. Even today middle-aged men and women, hearing by some chance the names Sacco and Vanzetti, still find themselves stirred by the passion and violence of their younger days. Sacco and Vanzetti have become a symbol, and, like all symbols, the meaning varies with those who adopt it.
I myself do not have any memory of the trial, being then in the sixth grade of the Boston public schools, but I do remember from my eighteenth year the agitation and excitement of those summer weeks in 1927 preceding the two men's execution. The day they were to die I spent the better part of the afternoon walking over Beacon Hill and across the Common in the muted August sunshine. Police were everywhere, hard-faced and angry, some of them carrying rifles--a thing I had never seen before. Pickets with placards marched up and down before the Bulfinch façade of the State House. Periodically the police carted groups of them away in a patrol wagon to the Joy Street Station. Almost at once their places were filled by others. Buses kept arriving from New York hung with signs proclaiming SACCO AND VANZETTI MUST NOT DIE! and trailing red paper streamers. As the buses pulled into Park Square those inside began to sing "The Red Flag." They looked like foreigners, most of them. I did not like their looks. I sensed in myself the hostility of the bourgeois world toward those two men. In spite of any pickets and red-streamered buses from New