Jack Hennessy’s motto was “life’s short, play hard.” The Naperville native and U.S. soldier was killed in combat in Iraq in 2004. But the memory of Jack is alive today. Members of The Naperville Park District recently dedicated a park just down the street from Hennessy’s boyhood home.
“He will always be known as our leader and our hero,” said Mike Riley, Park Board President for the Naperville Park District during the park’s dedication.
“When he was killed, everybody just came out and the support’s been continuous,” said his father Bernie Hennessy. “That’s’ one of the things that Naperville should be proud of, that they do a wonderful job of supporting those that serve and their families.”
Jack’s closest friends recall some of the best times together, as they gather around a Forever Green tree planted in his honor.
“My favorite Jack memory was definitely high school, senior year at football games,” said his friend Jessica Guziec. “He was kind of our unspoken mascot in the stands. I was a cheerleader and he’d be in the stands, shirt off, NCHS painted on [him].”
Jack’s friends and family hope the improved park will provide a place for residents to not only enjoy nature, but remember the fallen soldier for generations to come.
“Being some of his closest friends, we think about him every day,” said Jack’s friend Brian Radtke. “But it’s nice that the community gets a symbol to remember him by.”
“Kids will walk by and their parents will tell them [that] Jack lived here and he served in Iraq and died for our country,” said Cindy Hennessy, Jack’s mother.
Jack Hennessy’s legacy also lives on through Naperville Central High School. He organized the school’s first lacrosse team, and each year, the Jack Hennessy trophy is awarded to a senior on the team who demonstrates the same dedication and leadership that were characteristic of Jack.
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