Vietnam Memorial receives anonymous $25,000 donation

MIKE SPRINGER/Staff photo Haverhill military servicemen who were killed during the Vietnam War are honored in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Mill Brook Park.

HAVERHILL — An anonymous donor has given $25,000 for long-term maintenance of the city's Vietnam Memorial in Mill Brook Park.

The donor, who did not identify themselves, made the contribution in memory of Pfc. Arthur P. Williams, one of 13 Haverhill men who were killed in the Vietnam War.

Williams, who served in the U.S. Marines, was the third Haverhill man to be killed in the war. The first was Pfc. Ralph T. Basiliere, whose nephew of the same name is chairman of the city's Vietnam Memorial Commission.

The names of the 13 men are memorialized on a bronze plaque mounted to a granite block in Mill Brook Park, which is opposite the entrance to the Plug Pond Recreational Area.

"We were looking to create a fund of $50,000 for long term maintenance, and with this contribution, we have exceeded our goal," Basiliere said. "We're planning to draw about $1,000 from the fund each year for things such as lawn care, plantings and other landscaping issues." 

He said the donation came with the express instructions that the money is to be used for landscaping of the memorial. The money will be placed into an account for that purpose. 

"This is exactly what we needed money for," Basiliere said. "It is a very timely and thoughtful gift." 

He said a lawyer in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, contacted him recently to inform him of the donation. 

"I don't know if the donor is a Haverhill person or anything else about the donor, other than the lawyer said the donor has visited the memorial," Basiliere said. "It's a real life mystery."

The memorial, which was completed in August of last year, has brick walkways, two granite benches, two granite and stone sitting walls as well as electrical and water service and features 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.

The stations display information about Agent Orange, the draft, the demilitarized zone and a brief history of the United States' involvement in the war and were 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 memorial was 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.

"The commission's leadership has inspired great confidence and has captured the city's imagination," Basiliere said. "We have challenged the community to be better versions of ourselves."

The memorial will be formally dedicated on Sept. 11 during a ceremony planned for 6 p.m. The public is invited to this event, which will include keynote speaker State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen, a U.S. Army veteran. Mayor James Fiorentini has also been invited to speak. Haverhill tenor Neal Ferreira is expected to perform along with others.


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