Daley honored by military, marches in final parade

May 7, 2011 4:29:57 PM PDT
On Saturday, Mayor Richard Daley was honored by the armed forces, and marched in the Polish Constitution Day Parade -- his last parade before retiring from office.

Daley officially retires a week from Monday on May 16, which is when Rahm Emanuel will be sworn in.

Parade-goers at the largest Polish parade outside of Poland reflected on Daley's 22-year term.

"Hopefully, he's going to show up at the next parade, and the next year, and the next year," said parade-goer Jarek Mozolewski.

"It's going to be different in Chicago without Daley, that's for sure. We're going to miss him," said parade-goer Al Kwiatkowski.

Veterans, cadets, and military support organizations also honored the mayor -- he was presented with the U.S. Army's Distinguished Civilian Service Award for his support of the military, its veterans and Junior ROTC programs.

"It is emotional because if you're not emotional, if you don't have emotions, then the job is only 9 to 5, or the job is too bureaucratic. You have to have compassion and emotion," Daley said.

The mayor's son Patrick was present as cadets from several Chicago Public Schools' Junior ROTC programs performed a pass-in-review for the mayor.

"The mayor's remembered all those who have served. We're at Soldier Field, we're not at a corporate named stadium. O'Hare Field is still O'Hare Field. Midway Airport is still Midway Airport, named after the military," said 11th Ward Alderman James Balcer.

The mayor also received praise from family members who have lost loved ones to war. Sandy Ochsner's son, U.S. Army Sgt. James Ochsner died in Afghanistan in November of 2005.

"The difference the mayor has made is that he recognizes our loss, and it helps us to heal," said Sandy Ochsner.

While those at the military ceremony knew Daley will continue to be their tireless supporter, others hope the city's next mayor will make that commitment too.

"I don't think he can do enough for the veterans," said Vietnam War veteran Andrew Brown.

The mayor is also credited with bringing the Memorial Day parade back to Chicago. Daley says even after he leaves office, he will remain a friend to and a supporter of the military and their families.

ABC7 will be looking back at Daley's legacy in a special program "Chicago's Mayor: The Daley Years." It airs Thursday night at 10:35 p.m.

You can watch the Polish Constitution Day Parade Sunday morning at 11:30 a.m., here on ABC7. Alan Krashesky will host the event.

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