Haverhill Recognizes its Hometown Heroes During Downtown Ceremony

Ralph T. Basiliere, Exchange Club’s Thea Tsagaris and Jennifer Matthews and Ron Carpenito at the 2022 ceremony. (Courtesy photograph.)

Ralph T. Basiliere, chairman of the Haverhill Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission, reads names while Massachusetts Army National Guard Brigadier General Matthew Kennedy salutes. (Courtesy photograph.)

The backstory behind 161 banners, featuring the names and photographs of Haverhill veterans, was told during a Hometown Heroes Tribute Ceremony Thursday afternoon in downtown Haverhill.

The Haverhill Exchange Club, responsible for the second annual banner initiative, honored those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces at a service Thursday afternoon at Grand Army of the Republic Park, also known as G-A-R Park, with tenor Neil Ferreira of Haverhill performing the National Anthem. 

Others in attendance were Master of Ceremonies Ron Carpenito; Mayor James J. Fiorentini; Massachusetts Army National Guard Brigadier General Matthew Kennedy; Ralph T. Basiliere, chairman of the Haverhill Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission; and Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger. The sheriff discussed what Memorial Day means to him.

“It’s thank you to all our veterans, but especially those that made the ultimate sacrifice because, I just cannot imagine the pressure, the stress they went through, especially those that lost their lives in battle. I cannot say enough at how deeply grateful I am, and I’m sure you are also, for their sacrifice,” he said.

Basiliere, named for his uncle who was Haverhill’s first Vietnam War casualty, read the names of veterans whose likenesses appear on the banners. Presentation of the flags was made by the honor guards of Haverhill Police, Haverhill Fire, Essex County Sheriff’s Department and Haverhill High School Junior ROTC. Following the ceremony, Basiliere was officially sworn in as a Haverhill Exchange Club member.

This year’s Exchange Club Hometown Heroes banners appear on poles throughout Essex, Washington, Merrimack, Main, Water and South Main Streets; Bailey Boulevard; and Basiliere and Comeau Bridges.

Money raised helps the Exchange Club support various charities and scholarships.

Closing out the ceremony was Staff Sergeant Robert Sousa, Massachusetts Army National Guard bugler.

The banners will stay in place until Veterans Day when they will be returned to the families and sponsors of those being honored.

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