Recognizing his work organizing more than 30 Memorial Day Parades, the Town Council presented Memorial Day Parade Committee Chairperson Dan Hurley with a proclamation to thank him for his work remembering his fellow veterans who died serving their country.
Now that this year’s event is over, Hurley plans to step away from his parade responsibilities.
"Dan Hurley humbly assumed the charge of chairman of the Memorial Day Parade Committee (and) for the next 34 years to follow, holding countless committee meetings many months before the parade, lining up and organizing interested participants, making lists – checking them twice, making sure all branches of the military were invited and represented," said council Chairperson Katherine Pugliese, reading from the proclamation at the council’s Monday night meeting.
Pugliese continued, "The Town Council, on behalf of all citizens and parade watchers, would like to recognize and thank Dan Hurley for his leadership, guidance, compassion and volunteer spirit as chairman of the Memorial Day Parade Committee and hopefully will enjoy next year's parade in the front row, sitting in a nice comfortable chair somewhere in the shade.”
Hurley, who has served as the chairperson since 1985, said he can’t take all the credit for an effort that the whole town makes to ensure each parade is a success. For months before the holiday, he receives non-stop phone calls from people wanting to join the procession. He tells them as long as they understand “red, white and blue” they’re welcome.
"This piece of paper describes our town. We have a town full of people that are patriotic, that volunteer, that step forward and help. Because if they didn't none of this that's on this paper would ever happen. It's all because of the citizens of Plainville that this happens – it's not me," said Hurley, who will be handing the reins to Dave Dudek over the next year.
Before the council surprised him with the proclamation, Hurley introduced three of the four winners of this year’s Memorial Day essay contest, written by local schoolchildren.
Daniel Kane, the winner from Toffolon, wrote about being proud of his grandfather and uncle, who served in Afghanistan in the Army National Guard. They joined Kane on the stage when he read his essay during the parade.
"He never knew what dangers could come at him and this is why I feel so proud and passionate about him," Kane wrote about his uncle. "I am so glad that he has returned and is not wounded. I am glad to know that he is always ready to serve our country. Today I feel like I am always being protected from threats anywhere in this world. Today I feel watched over, cared for and very honored by everyone who has served in our military.”
Emma Porteus, from Wheeler, said Memorial Day isn’t just another day off and we should take some time to remember those who gave their lives.
"Memorial Day is one of the most misunderstood holidays, because many people think of it as a day to have cookouts. It can also be understood as the first unofficial day of summer,” Porteus said. “What people should be doing is thinking about those who lost their lives fighting for our country. You don't have to place flags on graves or flowers to celebrate the people who lost their lives fighting for our freedom, just a simple thought.”
Mikayla Dimock, the Middle School of Plainville winner, went back into the holiday’s history as Decoration Day, when people would decorate the graves of Civil War veterans.
"Today is the day that I can be proud of these amazing people who put their lives on the line so that I could live mine freely. Memorial Day, Decoration Day, whatever we want to call it, however we choose to celebrate it – I will always know that these people chose to let me live my life knowing that they would be risking their own," she said.
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