EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 20, 2006

Walkway provides a living tribute for service people at Veterans Memorial Stadium

LAWRENCE - Mariano Torres said he wants his grandchildren to be able to visit Veterans Memorial Stadium long after he dies and know that he was a proud U.S. Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War.

Dan Reed, another Vietnam War veteran, said he prefers to see his late father-in-law, Joseph Gilbert - a U.S. Army sergeant - honored at the stadium for his brave service during World War II.

The two Lawrencians are among dozens of area veterans or relatives of local people who served in the armed forces who are motivated to buy a brick for themselves or a loved one so they can become part of the Veterans Walk of Remembrance.

"I want my name down there," said Torres, 64, pointing at the early stages of the personalized walkway under construction at the stadium, which underwent an $8 million renovation that was completed earlier this year.

"There aren't too many Spanish Vietnam veterans in the city. But I want my grandson and granddaughter to come over to see my name when I die so they know I was one of them," said Torres, a native of Puerto Rico who came to the city 20 years ago.

Reed, 58, has worked 32 years for the city's Department of Public Works, and he still proudly wears his Vietnam Veterans cap and camouflage jacket, which he had on when he showed up to look at the bricks Friday.

"I think it's beautiful, and I want to buy one to show respect for my father-in-law, who fought in Africa and Germany," he said, adding that the brick will also be a gift for his wife, Maureen.

Mayor Michael Sullivan said the city plans to install 3,200 blank bricks before year's end.

"This is the latest feature of a stadium we want to be a special memorial for all Lawrence area veterans, particularly as a tribute for the veterans who are still living," Sullivan said.

Veterans and their families have already placed more than 50 orders for bricks that have not yet been installed.

The mayor's chief of staff Myles Burke said he thinks a brick would be a unique but worthwhile holiday gift for somebody who is having trouble shopping for a relative who happens to be a veteran.

"This is something really special and almost a gift of immortality that would make a nice present you can give to your dad, your uncle, your grandfather or even children who have served their country," he said.

Burke already has a brick in place in memory of his late father - John Burke, who served two terms as register of probate for Essex County.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Merrimack Valley

Eagle-Tribune News Videos
Photos of the Week