City's new Vietnam Memorial gets boost

MIKE LABELLA/Staff photoRalph Basiliere and his service dog Elvis test out new granite benches in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial under construction in Mill Brook Park. The park is across from the entrance to the Plug Pond Recreational Area.

The city will receive an additional $15,000 in state grant money to help complete construction of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Mill Brook Park.

Vietnam Memorial Commission Chairman Ralph Basiliere said the unexpected money will pay for more concrete work and for the installation of four granite education stations with bronze plaques that he was preparing to cut from the project's budget. 

"Along with our legislative partners, we mustered a mighty coalition and we are all ecstatic about the additional grant money," Basiliere said. 

Andrew Herlihy, the city's division director of community development, is managing grants for the memorial and discovered the additional money in grant paperwork.

Herlihy said the state Department of Veterans Services is allowing the city to use grant money to build the new memorial, totaling $65,000 from state Sen. Diana Dizoglio, D-Methuen and state Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen.

"These funds are being used on the memorial and the site work, both of which are under construction currently," Herlihy said. "These funds allow us to stretch the use of many generous private donations."

Construction of the memorial began in early April and so far has included the installation of brick walkways, two granite benches, two granite and stone sitting walls, electrical and water service, and trees. Final grading and hydro-seeding is in progress.

A 7-ton, 13-foot-tall, obelisk honoring all men and women who served in Vietnam, along with a "13 memorial" honoring the 13 Haverhill men who died in the war, and four education stations will be installed in August.

The stations will display information about Agent Orange, the draft, the demilitarized zone and a brief history of the United States' involvement in the war. The stations will be designed to educate people about the war which resulted in the deaths of more than 58,000 Americans and injuries to thousands more.

The $175,000 project to create the memorial is being paid for through a mix of state grants, private donations, and in-kind donations and services, including from the city's Public Works Department, which provided trees and granite curbing.

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