Had Henderson resident Jim Hanley known what was going to happen Monday night, he probably wouldn't have attended Kyndle's annual dinner.
The Vietnam veteran, who spends much of his time working as a friend and activist for other veterans, became the focus of the large assembly when he was presented the Distinguished Citizen of the Year award.
"When we asked his daughters to describe him, they teared up and said, 'impossible' which is no greater testimony," said Joel Hopper who presented the award. "Our Distinguished Citizen grew up in Henderson and attended Holy Name School. Following in the footsteps of his mother's side of the family and his eight uncles, our citizen joined the United States Marine Corps."
After returning from service, Hopper said, Hanley married and raised five children.
"Much of our Distinguished Citizen's nature developed through his military experience," Hopper said. "While much of the world struggles with veteran issues, our citizen chooses not to struggle, but chooses to address the issues. He took classes from Veteran's Affairs so he could help other veterans prepare forms and papers to receive veteran's assistance. He currently serves as the commander of the VFW honor guard. He frequently visits the Veteran's Center in Hanson, Kentucky."
"He leads the efforts in putting up and taking down the white memorial crosses in Central Park to recognize the deceased veterans from Henderson County," Hopper said. "He also makes sure that no veteran in county nursing homes are forgotten at Christmas. He shops for them, wraps for them and organizes other veterans to help in the delivery."
"Our citizen epitomizes the unsung hero. A person who wants no recognition, who just wants to make a difference," Hopper said.
In receiving the award, Hanley said, "I don't know what to say. I don't know. Thank you all very much. This is a good honor, but I have a lot of dedicated guys who help me and I want to recognize them too and my family."
Other awards presented Monday night were the Small Business of the Year award and the Ambassador of the Year award.
The award for Small Business of the Year with 11 to 50 employees was presented to The Farmer and the Frenchman Winery and Cafe.
The award for Small Business of the Year with one to 10 employees went to Vaughn Insurance.