Nearly 55 years after his death, a memorial was dedicated to honor the spirit of Harry K. Daghlian, Jr.
Daghlian Memorial Dedication
On May 20th, 2000 (Armed Forces Day), more than one hundred family members, friends, city officials and on-lookers gathered in New London, CT, to memorialize the spirit of Harry K. Daghlian, Jr. They watched as the newly-hoisted American flag was unfurled for the first time by a chilly morning breeze under an ominous, overcast sky.
The Mayor of New London, Ronald Nossek, began the dedication ceremony by welcoming those assembled and the invocation was delivered by Rev. Matt McCaffrey (Pastor, First Congregational Church).
Words of RemembranceThe Mayor, acting also as the Master of Ceremonies, next introduced speakers who provided their individual reminiscences. Representing the City Council, Peg Curtin presented a brief biography, noting the highlights of Daghlian's life.
The most poignant remarks were made by six of Daghlian's former classmates from the Bulkeley School - Larry Crowley, Sol Silverstein, Herman Pumerantz, Tom Zito, Duncan Smith and Russell Beckwith. Overwhelmingly, they described him as a gentle, kind and caring person, who gave generously of his time in helping them with their school subjects. Several also noted how fitting Calkins Park was as a memorial site, particularly when they related stories of "playing ball with Harry on this neighborhood field," long before it took on its current manicured appearance.
Arnold Dion, author of this website, then briefly described Daghlian's involvement with the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, from 1944 to the time of his tragic death in 1945 (full text). Finally, Rev. McCaffrey provided a summary statement.
Flag Pole DedicationIn their dedication, Helen and Edward Daghlian presented the flag to the Silver Dolphins, U.S. Navy Color Guard, U.S. Navy Sub Base.
Edward and Helen Daghlian are pictured in the center, facing (left image). Surrounding the flag pole, Daghlian's classmates from the Bulkeley School participated in the flag raising.
Memorial Stone UnveilingHelen and Edward Daghlian dedicated the memorial stone in memory of their brother, Harry K. Daghlian, Jr.
IN MEMORY OF
HARRY K. DAGHLIAN JR.
1921 - 1945
A BRILLIANT SCIENTIST ON THE MANHATTAN
PROJECT. HIS WORK INVOLVED THE DETERMINATION
OF CRITICAL MASS. DURING AN EXPERIMENT GONE
AWRY, HE BECAME THE FIRST AMERICAN CASUALTY
OF THE ATOMIC AGE. THOUGH NOT IN UNIFORM,
HE DIED IN SERVICE TO HIS COUNTRY.
The ceremony was concluded with closing remarks from Helen Daghlian who thanked all those assembled to honor her brother and she thanked those who had helped in organizing the dedication. Rev. McCaffrey then offered the closing prayer.
During the reception that followed, Helen Daghlian was presented with a Proclamation from the office of the Mayor.
Office of the MayorCITY OF NEW LONDON
WHEREAS, Harry Daghlian died in September of 1945 after an accidental exposure to atomic radiation during an experiment at the secret Los Alamos National Laboratory; and
WHEREAS, Harry Daghlian was a native son of New London who graduated first in his class at Harbor School and first in his class in mathematics at Bulkeley. He then went on to complete his undergraduate degree at MIT before his 21st birthday; and
WHEREAS, Harry Daghlian later became part of the top secret atomic bomb development known as the "Manhattan Project" assisting other scientists in ending World War II; and
WHEREAS, Harry Daghlian is warmly remembered by his friends, such as former Police Chief John Crowley, as simply "the kid who lived just a couple of doors away who played with us at Calkins Park;" and
WHEREAS, his family, friends and the citizens of City of New London wish to remember and reflect upon those aspects of Harry Daghlian's life that illustrated his love of family and community; and
WHEREAS, we gather here today to dedicate this flagpole in a place that was important to Harry Daghlian as a young child and are caused to pause and wonder what other contributions might have been possible had his young life not ended so tragically.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ronald W. Nossek, Mayor of the City of New London, sign this Proclamation of Remembrance and Dedication in memory of Harry Daghlian.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the City to be affixed this 20th day of May 2000.
(signed) Ronald W. Nossek
MAYOR, THE CITY OF NEW LONDON