Sorrowful Centennial

A hundred years ago today, on April 15, 1920, Bartolomeo Vanzetti wheeled his pushcart through the streets of Plymouth, Massachusetts, offering fish for sale. Then he purchased some men’s suit fabric from a traveling salesman, and chatted with a fisherman on the shore who was putting a fresh coat of paint on his boat.

A hundred years ago today, Nicola Sacco took a day off from his job at a shoe factory in Stoughton, Massachusetts. He spent the day in Boston, trying to get a family passport from the Italian consulate there, and having lunch with friends at a restaurant in the Little Italy section of the city’s North End.

And a hundred years ago today, Frederick Parmenter, a paymaster, and Alessandro Berardelli, a security guard, perished. They were doing their job, delivering payroll
money to a shoe factory, when they were gunned down in broad daylight on the streets of South Braintree, Massachusetts, and the money boxes they carried were snatched from their hands.

The day after the murders, a news report on the South Braintree crime appeared on an inside page of the Boston Evening Transcript, shoehorned between an ad for Bond Bread and an ad for salted butter.

No one could have known at the time that the names of these four men—Sacco, Vanzetti, Parmenter, and Berardelli—would be remembered and linked forever in a tragic story of violence, prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, and injustice.

Two men murdered. Two other men wrongfully convicted and executed for the murders. Four families grief-stricken.

On this centennial of an American tragedy, attention, as Arthur Miller wrote in a different context, must be paid.






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