HAVERHILL — The American Veteran’s Traveling Tribute and Traveling Wall will open to the public at the North Haverhill Fairgrounds at noon on Thursday. That will signal the start of five days of tributes to and remembrance of veterans — including prisoners of war and those missing in action — throughout much of America’s military history.
The events will also honor the nation’s first responders, including police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel.
The traveling exhibit is an 80-percent-size replica of the permanent Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the large, black wall that stands in Washington, D.C., bearing the names of more than 58,000 American veterans who died during that Southeast Asian war.
The Wall and related exhibits will be open 24 hours per day from Thursday at noon through Monday, Memorial Day, at 3 p.m.
The fairgrounds off Route 10 near the bridge to Newbury, Vt., is the only site in the area, according to organizers of the visit, large enough to accommodate the 370-foot-long wall and the expected throng.
“It’s really ideal and relatively flat,” said Wayne Fortier, who’s been involved in the considerable logistics that have preceded The Wall’s arrival.
Fortier of Woodsville, a retired New Hampshire state trooper and now an investigator for the Grafton County Attorney’s Office in North Haverhill, was already chairman of the Haverhill-Newbury 250th Celebration Committee when he added the duties of helping coordinate five days of events surrounding the memorial.
He said the crowd this week could very well eclipse the 10,000 who turned out several years ago when The Wall was on display further north in Gorham.
“This observance is intended to honor any veteran, living and deceased. There are going to be former prisoners of war present, along with Gold Star mothers. Upper Valley students from the Upper Valley, in both New Hampshire and Vermont, have been invited to attend (Thursday and Friday). They’ll be arriving by bus. Four hundred motorcycle riders will be here next Sunday; they’ll ride past the memorial,” Fortier said.
The event is sponsored by the town of Haverhill, Haverhill Memorial VFW Post 5245 and Ladies Auxiliary, American Legion Ross Wood Post 20, regional fire departments and individual veterans. Fortier issued a special thanks to the North Haverhill Fair Association for making the site available.
Some planned highlights: Thursday, May 23 at noon — POW/MIA Remembrance; Gold Star Mothers.
Friday, May 24 at noon and 6 p.m. — Law Enforcement, Firefighters and EMS Saturday, May 25 at 2 p.m. — Recognizing local veterans of all conflicts Sunday, May 26 at noon — Veterans’ motorcycle groups “Ride to the Wall” Monday, May 27 at 10 a.m. — Honors will be given in memory of World War II veterans: Wilson “Stub” Keith, William White, Russell Hatch and Harry Williams.
The Haverhill/Newbury 250th anniversary Committee is maintaining a website at: www.celebrate250.org.
Visitors to the site may scroll the “Events” tab to find updated daily details of ceremonies and recognitions. There is no admission charge.
The Wall replica has been traveling the United States for 15 years. Organizers of the project say its mission is “to travel the nation to honor, respect, and remember men and women who served, and to pay specific tribute to those who gave all in that service. Since the tribute is mobile, it allows people to honor and respect veterans and active military personnel without having to travel great distances to do so.”
Visit www.avtt.org or call 903-714-8634 for more information.