Haverhill Expects a Thousand Motorcyclists to Visit its Vietnam Veterans Memorial This Year

Ralph Basiliere, chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Ad Hoc Memorial Committee; and Commissioners Linda Gambino Baxter, Joseph J. Bevilacqua and Daniel Plourde place the welcome banner. (WHAV News photograph.)

The national Tour of Honor, which raises money to support military families, memorial monuments and first responders, this year placed Haverhill’s new Vietnam Veterans Memorial on a list of motorcyclists’ destinations.

The Mill Brook Park site is one of 500 memorials across all 50 states selected by Tour of Honor for self-directed rides. Ralph T. Basiliere, chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Ad Hoc Memorial Committee and a former U.S. Marine, said he became aware of the publicity when motorcycle riders began showing up at the park last month.

“We were hoping that this would become a destination spot and now Tour of Honor has put us on the map and we’re just thrilled about it,” Basiliere said.

He added, at the start of the project to move the memorial from the Haverhill side of the Basiliere Bridge to Mill Brook Park, City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan, a Commission member, predicted what was then being planned would attract visitors from all over. “About a half a dozen have been by, but I’ve been told to expect a thousand riders over the next five months,” he noted.

Several commissioners gathered Thursday afternoon to install a banner welcoming the riders to Haverhill. Among them was City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua.

“What I think is happening is that people are recognizing the City of Haverhill has not forgotten its Vietnam veterans and wants to see what we do,” Bevilacqua said.

Commissioner Linda Gambino Baxter, whose brother Michael Gambino, was killed in action during the war and is among the 13 men listed on the memorial, wants the story to be told. “We’re very excited to share it with everyone all over the country,” she said.

Commissioner Daniel Plourde agreed. “It’s a good thing for the park. It’ll draw more attention to the park and hopefully all of these riders will enjoy what they see,” he said.

Tour of Honor collects a registration fee of $125 for riders and $115 for passenger. Of that amount, a $25 donation goes to each rider’s charity of choice. Riders receive a flag, patch, stickers, season-long scoring, finisher’s certificates and pins, chance to win trophies and a short-sleeve t-shirt.

There’s more at tourofhonor.com.

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