PHOTOS: Veterans’ Secretary Urena Tours Haverhill Vietnam Memorial Site

State Secretary of Veterans' Services Francisco Urena (center) joined members of Haverhill's Vietnam Memorial Ad Hoc Commission Feb. 15 to discuss Mill Brook Park upgrades. (WHAV News photograph)

Haverhill’s evolving Vietnam Memorial continues to win support from the Merrimack Valley and beyond, with Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary Francisco Urena stopping by Friday morning to tour the site at Mill Brook Park.

Basiliere fills Urena in during Friday's visit.

Ralph Basiliere, who chairs the committee appointed by Mayor James J. Fiorentini to fundraise for and design the new landmark, showed Urena architectural renderings that will expand the memorial originally installed in the city in May 1973 to commemorate 13 Haverhill sons lost in the Vietnam War.

During Urena’s visit, the secretary provided several action items for the group that included City Council Vice President Thomas J. Sullivan and Councilors Melinda E. Barrett and Joseph J. Bevilacqua. A well-received suggestion was to use the city landmark as a teachable tool for Haverhill’s younger generations. He also mentioned considering the site as a stop on the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall.

“It is the ways we recognize today that will take these memorials and be a catalyst long into the future,” Urena said.

The existing memorial was relocated from the foot of the Basiliere Bridge to the entrance to Plug’s Pond in November. Local businesses and individuals stepped up almost immediately to donate services and funds to help Haverhill honor all veterans—not just those that served in Vietnam. Gifts thus far have been provided by Atwood Memorials, DAVCO Excavation and others.

Urena also urged the Memorial Commission to lean on Haverhill’s legislative delegation, which includes the new House Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, Rep. Linda Dean Campbell. Campbell’s Beacon Hill colleague, Rep. Andy Vargas, was this week named a member of the House Ways and Means Committee that approves the state budget.

In the Merrimack Valley for several veteran-related appointments Friday, Urena told WHAV it was his pleasure to make time for Haverhill.

“It’s always great to see firsthand what is going on in these communities so that we as policymakers can provide communities such as Haverhill that sense of support and guidance,” he said. “We’re so very proud of this beautiful park that’s happening here and I can’t wait to see it.”

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