The Vietnam Memorial was restored today to its traditional place at the end of the city's official Memorial Day ceremonies.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk today expanded the official Memorial Day Parade to once again include the Vietnam Memorial outside Gloucester High School, which sent 11 of its own to be lost in the lost war that the U.S. entered 50 years ago.
The decision to extend the parade to the memorial reverses a decision to exclude the Vietnam Memorial ceremony from the official agenda.
The initial change had been outlined Friday and over the weekend to perplexed and widespread opposition.
Many in the community said they could not understand the decision to essentially eliminate the Vietnam War ceremony from the official agenda for the Memorial Day, especially in a year that marks the nation's decision 50 years ago to become in a war that the nation would ultimately lose, bringing bitterness and lingering pain, especially among the veterans who served.
Kirk had said that the decision was based on a desire to produce a single unified memorial ceremony at the World War II Memorial off Stacy Boulevard. In a letter to Mark Nestor, the organizer of the Vietnam War Memorial ceremony, Kirk apologized "for not overcoming the logistical challenge of incorporating the Vietnam Memorial into the parade salute for this year. I should have caught this sooner, and we plan to do everything we can to properly honor the fallen sons of Gloucester."
Nestor, a local attorney and a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, said this morning, "I congratulate the mayor."
"She recognized the importance of the Vietnam Memorial," she said. "Now, (the ceremony) is inclusive. I thank the mayor for her graciousness. She saw there was an issue, that's all we wanted, we'll be glad to part of the city's ceremony, the important thing is honoring the 11 (Gloucester servicemen who were casualties of the war)."
Before Kirk's decision to extend the official parade to the Vietnam Memorial at the high school, the agenda called for beginning the parade at Harbor Loop, continuing through downtown and proceeding across Stacy Boulevard to the World War II Memorial for the unified service — which would mark the end of the ceremonies. The new schedule announced this morning will extend the parade to continue from the go from World War II Memorial onto the high school and the Vietnam Memorial — as it has in the past.
Nestor and Disabled American Veterans Chapter 74 had still planned to conduct the traditional ceremonies at the small memorial in an external corner of the high school following the completion of the official ceremonies.
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Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3464, or at email@example.com.