Rep. Birmingham represented Gov. Joseph Ely as the principal speaker at the centennial celebration of Lowell High School held on Dec. 1, 1931, at the Memorial Auditorium. Other speakers included Frank W. Wright, director of secondary education at the state Department of Education, and Judge Arthur L. Emo, representing the alumni association, the Lowell Sun reported (Dec. 1, 1931, p. 1, 9, via Newspaper Archives).
Below are excerpts from Birmingham’s speech:
“I believe that on an anniversary of this kind we should go back 300 years to the settlement of the Massachusetts Bay colony in this country. Those settlers left their native shores, not as exiles or convicts, but as intelligent men and women settling a land where they might establish society on their own basic principles. They came here that they might have liberty which was deprived them in their native land; they came that they might find a place where they could, unmolested, worship God in their own way.
“They faced the hardships of this new country with courage, foresight and perseverance. Their advance forward was immediate, and in 1636 their first school was found in Newtowne, now Cambridge. In 1647 permission was given the individual towns to support schools by taxation if they desired. Third among all communities to take advantage of this offer was Lowell. You, therefore, should feel proud to study in a school built on sacrifice and on the noble deeds of men and women of Lowell long since dead. Their task in founding your school was not simple.
“The educational system then established could not have existed if the children had not been taught the [sic] to God and country that had imbued their forefathers.
“And may I speak a word to the parents who are here today. They have cause to rejoice in seeing their children attending such a splendid institution. And they should constantly remember the unselfishness of the teachers who care for their children the greater part of the day.
“I am not exactly a stranger in your city; I know many Lowell men, and I have the greatest respect for my friends here. For the past five years I have been friendly with your mayor-elect, Charles H. Slowey, and I can well understand why the thinking people of your city placed him in office. I well know the keenness of this intellect and the soundness of his judgment. But my knowledge of Lowell is given a new inspiration today by the sight of this assembly and the nature of the exercises.
“Although we are now in times of stress and unemployment, remember that bright and happier days are coming. Remember that this country was built on sacrifice—and let us become imbued with that spirit. Let nothing shake you, my young friends, as you carry forward the banner in the same manner in which you received it.”