Let Freedom Ring! Exploring the Freedom Trail

10/11/2011 03:27 pm ET | Updated Dec 11, 2011

With all due respect to Veggie Tales, I've never licked a sparkplug, sniffed a stinkbug, or painted daisies on a big red rubber ball, and I've never bathed in yogurt... but, at the close of my fifth week at Boston University, I can most definitely say that, unlike "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything," I have been to Boston in the fall.

I was mostly occupied with studying for (and taking) midterms this past week, but last Saturday, I went on a walking tour of part of the Freedom Trail with a group from the Howard Thurman Center. I realized that since the end of FYSOP, the only times I'd been off-campus had been when I'd walked over the river to get my space history fix at MIT (but that's another story), and the Freedom Trail was very high on my "Must-See" list.

Ever since we'd first learned about the Revolutionary War in fourth grade, I'd wanted to visit the sites where such crucial early events of the war had occurred. (I'd actually developed a minor obsession with the whole period at the time -- I still know several chunks of "Paul Revere's Ride" by heart.) So I showed up early, camera-in-hand, and rode the "T" to the Boston Common with the group.

I can see the golden dome of the State House from the window of my dorm room, but it still was cool to see it up close -- and to see the monument to the 54th Massachusetts State Regiment (The fighting unit depicted in the movie Glory), out front. Next, we headed to the Park Street Church, the site of many early antislavery speeches.

But it was our next stop that really got me excited -- the Granary Burial Ground, the final resting place of Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, the five men killed in the Boston Massacre, and Ben Franklin's parents. (Franklin himself is buried in Philadelphia.) When I went to Arlington back in July, I thought there were a lot of coins and stones on Audie Murphy's grave, but Paul Revere's monument had far, far more. There were also a lot of the classic creepy colonial New England gravestones with winged skulls carved on them.

After that, we were on to the Old State House. The golden lion and unicorn emblems are quite classy-looking, I must say. We didn't get to eat at Faneuil Hall, although we did get to get a look at the very cool grasshopper weather vane atop it. (Who wants a boring old arrow or rooster when you can have a grasshopper?) It was quite sobering to walk through the Holocaust Memorial, under the glass towers marked with names and quotes -- even though the day was warm, I'll admit I shivered.

None of us felt much like talking after that, so we walked through Haymarket just listening to the boy who was our guide. But the beautiful view of the Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge and the Rose Kennedy Greenway as we crossed into the North End cheered me up. The Greenway is a new park built on land that was a highway before the "Big Dig" project, with lots of open space and some very pretty fountains.

Paul Revere's house always has a big line to get inside, so we just looked at it from on the street. Bummer. We did, however, get to visit the Old North Church, where the lanterns were hung "One if by Land, and Two if by Sea". (And also is the site of the conclusion of one of my favorite movies, National Treasure.) Sadly, we didn't have time to walk the entire trail and go to Copp's Hill, Bunker Hill, or the U.S.S. Constitution. But I have plenty of time -- I'll be living in Boston for the next four years, after all!