“Taps,” performed by Haverhill Police Sgt. Kevin Lynch.
More photographs below.
A wide range of emotions were visibly expressed over the weekend as veterans and first responders were thanked, remembered and honored during several local tributes.
The 20th anniversary of the terror attacks of 9/11 coincided with both current events—the loss of 13 U.S. servicemembers during the nation’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan—and the formal dedication of Haverhill’s new Vietnam Veterans Memorial honoring 13 who gave their lives in that war.
At the dedication in Mill Brook Park, principal speaker Rep. Linda Dean Campbell poignantly tied all of the weekend’s remembrances together.
“When the details of war are not in the forefront of our consciousness or we become uninterested in why we were at war, how we got there and when war will conclude. This past week, we began asking ourselves these questions about Afghanistan I believe. Unlike Vietnam, however, most of us understand that we must separate honoring those who served while simultaneously questioning the political decisions of going to war and remaining at war,” she said.
Campbell, who served in the U.S. Army, noted among her mentors were Vietnam veterans who gave us “many gifts and some critical advice.” She cited the example of Vietnam veteran and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell.
“In advising President (George H. W.) Bush about Kuwait, Powell said, and I paraphrase, we want to put in a number of troops that we can repel the invasion with and establish the border. We want to build and have popular support. We want to have an exit strategy. We want to go in, accomplish the mission and get out,” Campbell noted.
The state representative noted a full 1% of the nation’s population is in the military and deserve support.
Haverhill Veterans Services Director Luis Santiago read the names of the 13 servicemembers who died during an Islamic State attack at Kabul airport. Vietnam Veterans Commissioner Linda Gambino Baxter read the names of Haverhill’s 13 that gave their lives during the Vietnam War, including her brother, U.S. Army PFC Michael James Gambino.
Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini thanked the members of the commission and noted the history of the city’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “There’s always been a Vietnam Memorial in Haverhill. I was at the first dedication over 50 years ago. But, three years and a month ago, a Vietnam veteran by the name of Lou Fossarelli approached the City Council—Councilor (Joseph J.) Bevilacqua brought him in—and said, ‘You know we can do better’ and suggested that we have a better memorial,” he explained.
City Council President Melinda E. Barrett served as mistress of ceremonies, while Neal Ferreira sang and performed patriotic songs. State Sen. Diana DiZoglio read the lyrics from Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” that became a popular Vietnam War protest song. Rev. Kenneth M. Young of Calvary Baptist Church provided the invocation.
Commission Chairman Ralph T. Basiliere, named for his uncle—Haverhill’s first Vietnam casualty, thanked the private donors who helped pay for the new memorial. He said the Commission promised Vietnam veterans a park of their own, adding, “Tonight, it is under your feet.”
The city’s tributes and events began Friday with a first responder’s and city worker’s “Appreciation Cookout.” It was hosted and sponsored by Driscoll Funeral Home and supported by Maria’s Family Restaurant, Wang’s Table, G’s Texas Southern Flare and Flush Services.
Saturday morning began with a 9/11 memorial service at Haverhill Firefighting Museum plans. It included the honor guards of Haverhill Fire, Haverhill Police and Trinity EMS, sounding of the last alarms at 9:39 and 10:28 a.m. and readings of the names of the 411 first responders lost that day.
During the afternoon, Mike Jarvis of Jarvi Productions sponsored and delivered more than 100 hot chicken dinners for on-duty Haverhill Firefighters, police officers and Trinity EMS staff. Jarvis was aided by L’Arche Boston North which provided desserts, volunteers Allison Riley and his brothers, recent Purple Heart recipient Donald Jarvis and Dan Jarvis.
Jarvis explained, “Firefighters work long days and tireless hours while waiting for the next alarm not knowing what it could be or when it could be. They are always ready for any call anytime and ready to go into a fire risking their lives to save others. Not many people realize how much work and bravery firefighters have. If it wasn’t for all the training they do daily and having the proper equipment, they won’t be able to perform the job properly.”