Impromptu Ceremony Follows Arrival of Monuments at Haverhill’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Atwood Memorial’s Rick Atwood, standing on truck, supervises the unloading of a 13-foot obelisk that arrived Wednesday morning from Barre, Vt. (WHAV News photograph.)

Members of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Ad Hoc Committee. (WHAV News photograph.)

An impromptu ceremony at Mill Brook Park greeted the arrival Wednesday morning of remaining granite monuments for Haverhill’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

It was particularly meaningful for Linda Gambino Baxter, whose brother Michael J. Gambino, was one of Haverhill’s 13 who made the ultimate sacrifice. Baxter, a member of the Commission that built the new memorial park, said the new memorial accomplishes a larger purpose.

“I am so very, very pleased with this monument. It was a long time coming, not just for Michael, but for all of the vets—both still living and those who have passed—not just the ones who were KIA,” she said.

A new granite monument, dedicated to the 13 veterans who died during the conflict, went up last week at the park. Arriving Wednesday were the four education stanchions and a seven-ton, 13-foot-tall obelisk to be set into place by Atwood Memorial. (See earlier WHAV story.)

The new Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be formally dedicated Friday, Sept. 11.

Baxter, Mayor James J. Fiorentini and a seven-year-old Ralph T. Basiliere, named for his uncle—Haverhill’s first Vietnam casualty, also attended the dedication of the original memorial in 1973 near Basiliere Bridge. Fiorentini said one of the hopes expressed at that ceremony decades ago remains to be fulfilled.

“I remember what Father Serino said, ‘Let there never be another Vietnam. Let’s dedicate this so there will never be another war.’ And, we failed. There have been several other wars like this, but on the 11th, let’s redouble our efforts so that we never have to build another one of these,” he said.

Basiliere, chairman of the memorial Commission, said support from the mayor’s office made all the difference in successfully completing the project.

“Without the horsepower that we got from the mayor’s office—without that unremitting political will that we got from his office—we would not have been able to do this,” Basiliere said.

Baxter, perhaps best, summed up the morning’s emotions. “It’s just been a very positive experience. And, now I can rest.”

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