“The neighborhood knows the history — the great war veteran he was,” Rose Mary O’Connor, chairman of Mack Park group, said of Verrette. “He was a friendly, nice man. He did a lot through the veterans organizations.”
Once the idea for a tribute was developed, members of the Mack Park association began working with the Verrette family and city officials. City Councilor Mike Sosnowski, veterans’ liaison, got involved and his experience with memorials of this sort helped make the monument possible, O’Connor said.
Verrette died on Oct. 26, 2009, at age 87. He was raking leaves outside his Mason Street home when he was killed by a car driven by Apostolos Bakolas of Woburn. Bakolas told investigators the sun’s glare was in his eyes and he did not see Verrette. Last year a judge found that no criminal charges were warranted.
Verrette accrued extensive combat experience as a sergeant in the European campaign, participating in the Battle of the Bulge and the D-Day invasion. His honors included the Silver Star — which is the third-highest military award for valor — the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Good Conduct Medal.
Mack Park members and other residents made donations that allowed for the purchase of the $2,600 stone, which includes engravings of the three major medals he earned and the phrase “His loyal dedication to his country, family and friends will not be forgotten and remain forever in our hearts.”
Support from the community was overwhelming, O’Connor said.
After the dedication ceremony, a reception was held at the Moose on Grove Street, where Verrette was a member.
Once the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission approved the stone for Mack Park, Richard Brennan, a member of the Mack Park Neighborhood Association, did the work to install the stone. A Salem firefighter who owns K & B Excavating, Brennan did the work pro bono.
O’Connor said Kimball Memorials, which created the memorial stone, was also instrumental in making the tribute possible.
O’Connor said she was hoping to see local families bring teenagers to the ceremony.
“It would be great for kids to see — this is a hero, we have to memorialize him,” she said, “because you don’t see much of that these days.”
Read more: Two veterans’ tributes planned – Salem, Massachusetts – Salem Gazette http://www.wickedlocal.com/salem/archive/x1539863019/Two-veterans-tributes-planned#ixzz1Nx19X12y