The Battle of Bunker Hill Day Parade on June 16 will feature a solemn tribute to the late Robert ‘Bob’ Gillen – a former Navy officer who spent countless hours helping to plan and execute the Parade since returning to his hometown years ago after a distinguished career in the Navy.
Gillen died on July 6, 2018, shortly after last year’s Parade.
Parade Committee Chair Arthur Hurley announced officially this week that the Parade would be dedicated to Gillen, and that his brother, Moe, would be riding in a car at the front of the Parade to commemorate the memorial.
“The Parade is being dedicated to Bob Gillen,” said Hurley. “His brother will be at the head of the Parade. When Bob came back to Charlestown to be the commander of the USS Constitution, he began to get involved in the Parade Committee.”
Hurley, himself, will mark his 48th year of involvement in the Parade, having joined in as part of the American Legion so many years ago.
“I jumped at the opportunity to get involved,” he said. “They told me to get down to Hayes Square and I could help.”
And that’s what he’s done ever since, being the backbone of the coordination with Gillen for some time.
The Parade this year will also be honoring the 100th anniversary of the American Legion nationwide, and the J.W. Conway Bunker Hill Post #26 in Charlestown.
Hurley said there will be a strong presence of American Legion leaders from the Town and from the national offices.
The Legion was one of many veterans organizations in the Town that helped to make up the Parade Committee, but many of them fizzled out.
The AmVets, VFW, Legion, and DAV made up the Allied Veterans, but now only the Legion is left.
“It’s always important to remember we are commemorating the Battle of Bunker Hill,” he said. “The Dorchester Day Parade or some other parade may not be done by veterans. They are not commemorating a military event. They’re celebrating the community. This is commemorating our history and a military event.”
He added that they will follow the same parade route this year, a route that was altered a couple of years ago.