Last week, Bourne found itself in the middle of the angry and bitter debate over the unaccompanied, undocumented children streaming into the United States from Central America and a plan to possibly use Camp Edwards to temporarily house some of those children here on the Upper Cape.
All eyes were on the town as our selectmen bowed to fear and prejudice, and unanimously took a stand against the Camp Edwards plan. It was far from the town’s finest moment.
It is still unclear if the camp will end up housing some of these children and the debate continues on, as is clear from the letters we have received this week.
One week later, Bourne again found itself the center of attention—but this time, for a far more admirable reason. The town was at the epicenter of the Cape Cod Canal Centennial Celebration: the biggest party the Upper Cape has seen since August Belmont completed his waterway connecting Buzzards Bay to Cape Cod Bay one century ago.
Tens of thousands of people flooded onto the Upper Cape to tour the tall ships, learn more about the canal’s history, and to take in the pageantry. An evening of fireworks capped off the big bash.
True, there were problems. People complained about the crowds and traffic. Participation in last weekend’s lighted boat parade was disappointing and the boats turned around before they reached the Sandwich end of the canal, leaving spectators at that end angry and confused. Instructions could have been clearer about from where along the canal Tuesday’s fireworks would (and would not) be visible. Because of all the people, some of the events were hard to reach and, once there, too crowded. There were long lines for food, and long waits in traffic.
But in the end, the fun far outweighed the fizzle. The canal centennial was a success.
People came from all across the nation—even the world—to celebrate our canal. In truth, it was a celebration of what the canal represents. In its day, it was an engineering marvel; a masterpiece of progress. Its planning took vision and its construction took grit.
When the first shovelfuls of dirt were removed, there must have been many doubters, people who would not believe that such a project could be completed.
“Change only happens when people take risks,” Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce executive director Marie Oliva told the crowd at the centennial ceremony Tuesday.
We couldn’t have said it any better, Marie. We can all be proud of our canal and the scores of people who faced the challenges to build it. They were hearty men and women.
When our history is chronicled, will it tell a favorable story? Now there is a question to ponder in light of recent events.