Politicians here who have been debating anew the wisdom of executing two anarchist Italian immigrants 50 years ago marked the actual anniversary of the event by going on vacation.
The electrocution of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in Boston's Charlestown state prison on August 23, 1927, resulted in bombings, riots and demonstrations around the world.
Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis' proclamation last week calling the pair's 1921 murder trial unfair because of prejudice against foreigners and an national climate of political intolerance at the time was met by howls from the state's proponents of capital punishment, who saw the proclamation as a slap against their cause and a slur on the state's system of justice.
Yet, Gov. Dukakis, who proclaimed today as a statewide "Sacco and Vanzetti Memorial Day" in what was described as a humanitarian gesture, is celebrating it in Israel where he is on a two-week trip.
The state Senate, which had bitterly debated a stinging resolution attacking the proclamation, as politically motivated, is in quasi-recess, meeting for exactly eight minutes today. The house is in recess until Thursday.
The growing controversy over the proclamation, briefly reminiscent of the legal arguments surrounding the original six-week murder trial and execution of the Italian shoemaker and fishmonger, was scarcely evident today.
In the streets of Boston, where Edna St. Vincent Millay and other noted intellectuals of the time were arrested in 1927 for demonstrating in support of Sacco and Vanzetti, the scene was business as usual.
Republican State Sen. David Locke, who sponsored the resolution condemning Gov. Dukakis for "finessing the question of guilt or innocence and casting a dark shadow" over the more than 50-year-old legal proceedings, spent most of the day in his suburban Wellesley law offices, about 20 miles from the state Capitol.
At the Norfolk County courthouse in suburban Dedham, where massive demonstrations were held and 2,226 pages of testimony were recorded before the Italian immigrants were condemned to death, attorneys in three-piece suits walked casually in and out of the historic brick building. No one appeared to note the occasion.
In South Braintree, at the Michigan Abrasive Co., once the site of the Slater and Morrill Shoe Co., where paymaster Frederick Parmentor and his guard, Alessandro Berardelli, holding a $15,773 payroll, were fatally wounded by two men on April 15, 1920, workers appeared unaware of the murder attributed to the pair that has spurred so much controversy over the last 50 years.
In Brockton, an old Massachusetts mill town where Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested on May 5, 1920, five people representing the Disabled American Veteran of Hamilton, Mass. placed a floral wreath in the shape of the American flag on the grave of Parmentor.
And in Boston, a brief vigil was held early this morning at the Statehouse by a group of about 20 calling itself " The Organizing Committee for National Workers Organization." They demanded full exoneration for Sacco and Vanzetti in a letter to Dukakis.