HAVERHILL — The city will honor six of its World War II veterans, including two brothers, and will also commemorate the end of the war in Europe during an event that will be held on Saturday, July 24, at 10 a.m. in downtown Washington Square.
The public is invited.
In recognition of the 76th anniversary of V-E Day — Victory in Europe Day — which was May 8, the event will include guest speakers, music by the Sons of Italy marching band, a Jr. ROTC color guard from Haverhill High School and vocalists singing the national anthem and "God Bless America".
Two brothers, Ralph DiVincenzo, 99, who served in the Navy, and Loreto DiVincenzo, 95, who served in the Army, are expected to attend the event along with four other invited WWII veterans: James Boland and David Lane, both of whom served in the Navy, and Hy Der Bogosian and Stanley Williams, who both served in the Army.
Veterans Services Officer Luis Santiago said that in light of the dangers of COVID-19 among the nation's elderly population, and how World War II veterans are dwindling in numbers, this is the time to honor those veterans who are still alive.
"If we don't honor them now, we may never have the opportunity again," he said.
Joseph Byron of Honor Flight New England will present the veterans with free, round-trip tickets for an honor flight to Washington, D.C. to see the World War II memorial.
Santiago will also present each with a plaque from the city thanking them for their service, along with folded U.S. flags.
Guest speakers will include Mayor James Fiorentini; state Sen. Diana DiZoglio; state Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, who is a U.S. Army veteran; state Rep. Andy Vargas; Santiago and Army 1st Sargent Jeffrey Thompson from the North Shore Army recruitment office, who will speak on behalf of the military and will thank the honored veterans for their service.
"We will also be laying a wreath on the World War II monument in the square," Santiago said, noting the square will be blocked off to traffic.
In remembering their sacrifices, Campbell said that in the world’s darkest hour, some who went off to war did not fully understand that they were being called upon to do.
"They were so young but they did fully understand the rise of powerful and perfectly evil totalitarian powers in Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, the Soviet Union, and Fascist Italy," she said. "That was enough for them to volunteer to put their lives on the line – and they did understand that sacrificing their lives for others was a very likely outcome. It was a war on so many fronts – for so long – and victory seemed impossible at so many points – they committed themselves to the very end – regardless of the cost."
Emergency services during Saturday's event will be provided by the Haverhill Fire Department, organizers said.