Haverhill’s new Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Mill Brook Park has quickly become a treasured site for those seeking solace or closure from a war that ended almost 50 years ago.
Ralph T. Basiliere, chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Ad Hoc Memorial Committee and a former U.S. Marine, told the City Council this week the memorial, officially dedicated on Sept. 11 of this year, has become very meaningful to many former service men and women.
“Vietnam veterans have told me that for the first time in 45 to 50 years, they feel respected. That’s something for all of us to be proud of,” he said.
Basiliere told the Council his group raised $146,000 to create and develop the memorial through generous donations from Haverhill residents and businesses.
The memorial was originally located near the Basiliere Bridge on a small site with little available parking. In 2018, Haverhill City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua introduced Vietnam veteran and former City Councilor Louis Fossarelli, who asked the memorial be moved to a more appropriate location. The Council approved the request and, in 2019, the existing memorial was moved to the present site while improvements were planned.
Since then, the area has seen the addition of brick-paved walkways and two monuments including a 13-foot memorial honoring the 13 Haverhill residents killed during the war. Basiliere told the council in addition to the memorial park itself, the committee has provided other services.
“We held six ceremonies and a dedication. We provided 100 meals to homeless children. We’ve had holiday wreathes. We’ve provided 100 corsages to the family of Sergeant Rosario for the funeral services,” he noted.
Councilors praised Basiliere and his team for their work and dedication, among them Councilor William J. Macek.
“Ralph is a true marine and he’s done a great job on everything he’s done for the city. Nobody could have done a better job and I just want to thank you for that,” Macek said.
Bevilacqua added that the project showed what private citizens can accomplish when they work together.