City, Veterans to Collaborate on Plans for New Vietnam War Memorial

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

Vietnam veteran and former City Councilor Louis T. Fossarelli believes Haverhill veterans who served in the Southeast Asian conflict deserve a more impressive monument.

The only monument to Vietnam veterans who lost their lives or are still considered missing in action is a small brass plaque dedicated to the city’s first casualty in that war, Ralph Basiliere. It sits at the corner of Main and Water Streets at the northern entrance to the Basiliere Bridge.

Fossarelli said he means no disrespect to Basiliere, his family or those who placed the marker. However, he believes veterans and the survivors of those who were lost deserve a more substantial place of remembrance.

Appearing in front of the City Council Tuesday, Fossarelli suggested a small green space with a boulder on it near Central Plaza. He said he doesn’t know who owns the spot, or if it would be available for a memorial.

City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien said the city could probably do better.

“Is that really good enough, that place you’re thinking of?”

“It’s got to be somewhere other than where it is,” Fossarelli replied.

Councilor Michael S. McGonagle suggested the council’s Natural Resources and Public Property subcommittee invite the mayor and Veterans Agent Michael Ingham to begin working on a solution.

The chairman of that committee, Council Vice President Thomas J. Sullivan agreed the scope of the search for a site should be broader, saying he’s not sure how elaborate planners could get with a memorial in the space Fossarelli suggested.

Sullivan, a member of the Board of Directors at Winnekenni Park, said there are public spaces, including Winnekenni, Kenoza Lake and Union Park where no veterans memorials currently exist.

McGonagle said the Vietnam veterans deserve a unique site where they can receive the recognition and gratitude may failed to get when they came home from war.

“When you guys returned it wasn’t all pats on the back,” McGonagle said.

Councilor Melinda E. Barrett said she’d like to see a new memorial in addition to the one at the corner of the bridge. Keep the memorial to Ralph Basiliere, then have a bigger and grander memorial for all the veterans, she recommended.

Councilor Joseph A. Bevilacqua said he fears the memorial could be obliterated during the reconstruction of the Basiliere Bridge.