GLOUCESTER, Mass. — Unlike the U.S. veterans who served in every other major war fought for this country, the Vietnam Veterans never received a welcome home ceremony after their service. Often they received completely the opposite, being ignored or shunned.
The MBTA and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are helping to put that right.
As part of the four-day visit of The Wall That Heals, the traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., to Gloucester, MA from July 9 through July 12, the MBTA and the Commonwealth will provide special round-trip train service from Boston’s North Station to Gloucester for veterans and their families interested in visiting The Wall That Heals. This “Veterans'” train will be anchored by the Gold Star Car. The Gold Star Car serves as a rolling memorial to our fallen heroes and their sacrifice and dedication . The Gold Star Car features 136 gold stars which contains the name of a serviceman from Massachusetts who lost his or her life in Iraq and Afghanistan .
“We cannot adequately express our gratitude and appreciation to the MBTA and Gov. Charles Baker for providing this special rail service for Vietnam Veterans,” said Mark Nestor, Chairman of the Gloucester veterans organizing group and a U.S. Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam. “For the Vietnam Vets, this is not just a symbol of that cultural aberration suffered by Vietnam Veterans so many years ago, but finally tangible evidence of a growing appreciation for the sacrifice and service of all those who wore the uniforms of the United States military a half-century ago during the Vietnam War.”
The Wall, a striking 250-foot replica of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.,
will be at the Fuller School site on the Blackburn Circle of Route 128 from Thursday, July 9 through Sunday, July 12.
Organizers expect the four-day event to draw as many as 80,000 veterans and others from Massachusetts and New England.
Gov. Baker will be the keynote speaker in the opening ceremonies on July 9 at 10:00 a.m.
The Wall That Heals will remain open 24 hours per day during its stay in Gloucester, free of charge for those who wish to pay their respects or cast a personal remembrance of those veterans who, in the
words of Abraham Lincoln, gave their country “the last full measure of devotion” during their service in Vietnam.
The Wall will arrive in Gloucester at a poignant time, as this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War as well as the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the ushering in of an era that ultimately was defined, at home and around the world, by that war.
The MBTA will utilize the Gold Star Coach as well as many other train cars as possible on the MBTA Commuter Rail’s Rockport Line during The Wall’s four-day stay in America’s Oldest Seaport.
The addition of the Gold Star Coach to the MBTA Commuter Rail’s larger equipment sets will swell the trains’ seating capacity to more than 900, plus room for standees. As always, the MBTA Commuter Rail will provide handicapped access on all its trains to help smooth the journey for those who interested in visiting The Wall.
The current schedule for the event trains to Gloucester is:
Thursday, July 9 — Outbound Train No. 103 that departs Boston at 8:35 a .m. and arrives Gloucester at 9:40 a .m. and Inbound Train No. 116 that departs Gloucester at 4:02 p.m. and arrives Boston at 5:10 p.m.
Saturday, July 11— Outbound Train No. 1101 that departs Boston at 8:30 a.m. and arrives Gloucester at 9:32 a.m. and Inbound Train 1108 that departs Gloucester at 5:18 p.m. and arrives Boston at 6:21 p.m.
Veterans groups organizing The Wall’s visit to Gloucester will provide free round-trip shuttle service from the MBTA Commuter Rail’s Gloucester Station to The Wall’s site off the Blackburn Circle on Route 128.
“This will be a special weekend for all Vietnam Veterans and their families, especially those families that lost loved-ones in the war fought in the jungles and highlands of Southeast Asia,” Nestor said. “The commitment made by the MBTA and Gov. Baker is a significant contribution to help us bring as many Veterans and their families, as well as friends and well-wishers, to The Wall to remember and honor those who served and sacrificed. And that, at its very essence, is what this event is all about.” In some significant way the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and its citizens are finally saying to its
Vietnam Veterans “Welcome Home and Thank You!”
For further information please contact the above or the MBTA Customer Service 617.222.3200