DANBURY, Conn. -- As it was officially declared a "Purple Heart City," Danbury set aside two special parking spots at the War Memorial reserved just for veterans who were wounded in combat.
Mayor Mark Boughton presented the Purple Heart City proclamation at a dedication Sunday of the Combat Wounded Parking Spaces at the Danbury War Memorial at Rogers Park.
"It is my pleasure and honor to be here today, to be able to thank and memorialize the contributions that our veterans that have made throughout Danbury and the United States," said Boughton.
John A. Kwiatkowski, state commander for the military order, was presented with the proclamation at the ceremony.
The drive to establish Danbury as a Purple Heart City was spearheaded by local resident Lee Teicholz, whose father, William, received two Purple Hearts for wounds suffered in France and Germany during World War II.
The ceremony opened with a welcome with Mary E. Teicholz, and honor guards from Danbury Police Honor Guard. The many veterans in the crowd raised their hands and received a round of applause.
The invocation was done by Deacon Richard P. Kovacs from St. Gregory The Great Roman Catholic Church. "We're not at Mass, but at a blessing of the purple heart parking spaces," Kovacs said.
"On the way down here from church, tears came to my eyes knowing how the people in Danbury have sacrificed and how we have dedicated these purple heart parking spaces," he said. Kovacs also led a short prayer thanking those in service and those who couldn't attend who have received the Purple Heart.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Steven Johnston, and Maggie Cortese sang the National Anthem.
A 3-Volley Salute was done by the Danbury Police Honor Guard, while Ken Post from Danbury Council of Veterans performed "Taps."
Speakers included Boughton, Kwiatkowski, Teicholz and Ret. Lt. Col. Michael Zacchea.
The ceremony ended with a ribbon-cutting at the two designated Purple Heart parking spots. Dan Hayes from the War Memorial cut the ribbon with Teicholz. Kwiatkowski, Zacchea and Boughton.
"The Purple Heart award is the oldest medal we have in the military — started by General Washington. He recognized those who were wounded in battle and that is how the award was founded," Boughton said.