More than a dozen of Haverhill’s living World War II veterans are to be recognized and celebrated during a ceremony later this month with a color guard, special tributes and live performances.
The “World War II Recognition Ceremony” takes place Saturday, July 24, at 10 a.m., in Washington Square—home to the city’s World War II Memorial. Haverhill Veteran Services Director Luis Santiago tells WHAV the celebration was put into motion by John DiVincenzo, son of World War II veteran Ralph DiVincenzo, who is 99, and the nephew of 95-year-old Loreto DiVincenzo.
“They are looking to recognize their father and uncle who have sacrificed their time in war when we had basically an enemy who was foreign, and thanks to individuals like his father and uncle, we aren’t speaking a different language today,” Santiago says.
Santiago says he expects 14 veterans and the event includes a live performance by the Sons of Italy Drum and Bugle Corps and guest speakers. He’s looking forward to having the community come together.
“I want to give out a special thank you to Dean Thayer who is president of the AmVets. I would also like to give thanks to Erica Webb and Renee Ouelette from the Sons of Italy, Mr. Chris Manning who is the commander for the American Legion and for Vianelis Rodriguez who is the service manager for VNOC, Veterans Northeast Outreach Center. These are the volunteers who are helping me coordinate this ceremony, and it’s going to be a nice day to actually recognize the individuals who need no introduction,” he notes.
Santiago says the ceremony is especially important since World War II veterans are “up there in age.”
“Unfortunately they are a dying breed, which is sad to say. It hurts my heart just to even think it. Just their bravery and what they’ve done for this country is unparallelled. It’s one of those things we have to take it as it comes, as society changes and time goes on, they will always be remembered in history as our forever heroes,” he says.
The program was originally scheduled for this past Saturday, but was rescheduled. For more information, call Santiago at 978-374-2351, ext. 3910.
Santiago was a recent guest on WHAV’s morning program. Besides WHAV.net, WHAV’s “Merrimack Valley Newsmakers” podcasts are available via Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Alexa.