It was honor that was long overdue but an honor East Boston Police Officer Bob Anthony, the Boston Police Departments resident historian, is familiar with bestowing upon historic department figures.
It was on the corner of Harve and Maverick Streets that Anthony found that the first Boston Police Officer killed in the line of duty, Ezekiel Hodsdon, had fallen in 1857.
In 2007, a plaque commemorating Hodsdon’s ultimate sacrifice was erected at the intersection for all to see.
Then, after months of research Anthony, with the help of Margaret Sullivan, found the unassuming grave of a man in Evergreen Cemetery in Brighton.
It had been hidden for 87 years until Saturday when it became a historic site for underneath the stone laid the remains of Boston’s first African American officer.
“It is a privilege to be here with my brothers and sisters in law enforcement, our family members, dignitaries, and especially you the survivors of Sergeant Horatio J. Homer who we honor here today,” said Anthony at the ceremony over the weekend. “Before Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous speech, Sgt Horatio J. Homer overcame his own obstacles to become Boston’s first African American Police Officer.”
Known as a man that embodied perseverance and determination, Homer was the only black officer in Boston in 1878.
“Imagine in 1878 you were the only black officer on the force,” said Anthony. “Imagine how he persevered; imagine the trial and tribulation he had to endure.”
Homer joined the department on December 24, 1878. On September of 1895 he was promoted to the Rank of Sergeant. He retired on January 29, 1919 at the age of 71 having served The City of Boston and Boston Police Dept for 41 years. He passed away on January 12, 1923.
“This ceremony I find both solemn and yet celebratory at the same time,” said Anthony. “Solemn–because we gather on these hallowed grounds to remember Sgt Horatio J. Homer and his wife, Lydia, who, for the past 87 years rested in an unmarked grave and forgotten.”
Anthony added that it was celebratory because his grave is now a place to celebrate Homer’s life, dreams, accomplishments and service to the City of Boston.
“This special man of law enforcement Sgt Horatio J. Homer will never be forgotten, because this special place — this amazing memorial that we dedicate today — will endure for generations to come,” said Anthony.
Anthony was also responsible for finally putting a memorial at the corner of Bennington Street and Neptune Road in honor of East Boston Sergeant Richard Holloran who was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 6 1975.