Union Station officially opened to the public on Monday, June 26, 2017. This photo is from one of the many joyous opening celebrations.

Congressman Richard Neal

—–By Frederick A. Hurst—–
Congratulations to Congressman Richard “Richie” Neal for a job well done and for the vision that allowed him to see the possibilities in Springfield’s Union Station when it was little more than rubble. He has worked relentlessly on the project for decades while hoards of skeptics whispered their doubts. The outcome speaks for itself. Union Station can now be called the transportation hub of the region and Springfield can be proud.

It takes a special kind of person to fix their eyes on a distant future goal that most can’t even conceive of and to see it through to the end. If anybody could pull it off, Richie Neal was that person. He is smart, hard working and politically astute and has an unusually compassionate feel for the average person struggling to make a living, raise their kids and retire with dignity.

And he loves the city of Springfield where he was raised in the North End poor and blessed with a diverse group of friends who reflected the city’s racial makeup. Richie’s climb up the political ladder was steady and classic. Nobody has been able to repeat or even to come close to it. So it should surprise no one that he was able to raise the rubble of Union Station to a new glory in the same way he rose from the poverty of the North End to the United States Congress as the ranking member of the much sought after House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee.

Phoenix Rises From The Ashe

Picture 1 of 15

Walking through the new Union Station should impress anyone. But for those of us who were born and raised in Springfield and recall the old station before its downward spiral, its revival is spiritual and uniquely uplifting. It stands as the paramount symbol of the rebirth of the Springfield that we knew and a message to those who doubted and to those who hope that the City of Homes is on its way back.

For that we owe Richie Neal a profound debt of gratitude. ■

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