The National Honor Tour, which raises money to support military families, memorials and first responders, put the new Haverhill Vietnam Veterans Memorial on a list of destinations for motorcyclists this year.
The Mill Brook Park site is one of 500 memorials in all 50 states selected by Tour of Honor for self-contained rides. Ralph T. Basiliere, chairman of the ad hoc Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee and a former U.S. Marine, said he became aware of the publicity when motorcyclists began showing up at the park last month.
“We were hoping it would become a destination location and now Tour of Honor has put us on the map and we’re just thrilled,” Basiliere said.
He added that at the start of the plan to move the memorial from the Haverhill side of the Basiliere Bridge to Mill Brook Park, Councilman Thomas J. Sullivan, a member of the Commission, predicted that what was then planned would attract visitors from all over. . “About half a dozen have passed, but I’ve been told to expect a thousand runners over the next five months,” he noted.
Several marshals gathered on Thursday afternoon to put up a banner welcoming the runners to Haverhill. Among them was Councilman Joseph J. Bevilacqua.
“What I think is happening is people are recognizing that the town of Haverhill hasn’t forgotten its Vietnam veterans and wants to see what we’re doing,” Bevilacqua said.
Commissioner Linda Gambino Baxter, whose brother Michael Gambino was killed in action during the war and is one of 13 men listed on the memorial, wants the story told. “We are very happy to share it with everyone across the country,” she said.
Commissioner Daniel Plourde agrees. “It’s a good thing for the park. It will bring more attention to the park and I hope all those runners enjoy what they see,” he said.
Tour of Honor collects an entry fee of $125 for riders and $115 for passengers. From this amount, a donation of $25 is made to the charity chosen by each cyclist. Racers receive a flag, crest, stickers, season-long points, finisher certificates and pins, a chance to win trophies, and a short-sleeved t-shirt.
There are more on tourofhonor.com.