By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – Hudson residents have one more reason to be proud of their revitalized downtown. On June 16, the replaced bridge that crosses over the Assabet River on Washington Street was dedicated to a hometown Army veteran killed in action during the Vietnam War. The structure serving as a main gateway to downtown is now the Private First Class Kenneth M. Thibault Memorial Bridge.
A dedication ceremony was emceed by Veterans’ Agent Brian Stearns. Color guards from AMVETS Post 208 and Hudson Police Department marched onto the bridge to present the colors. Hudson High School (HHS) Marching Band performed the national anthem under the direction of Jason Caron.
Thibault was a 1966 HHS graduate. Speaking on behalf of his class, Jay Murphy explained that their reunions include reading names of classmates who have passed away.
“Kenny is always the first name that we read,” Murphy relayed. “Everybody loved Kenny. This is long overdue.”
Retired Brig. Gen. Mark Schulthess of Hudson introduced keynote speaker Lt. Col. David S. Diaz of Fort Worth, Texas. Diaz chronicled Thibault’s service as an enlisted Army infantryman and making the ultimate sacrifice. On April 2, 1967, three days before Thibault’s 21st birthday, he was killed in action by gunshot wounds in Binh Dinh, South Vietnam.
Selectmen Chair John Parent shared his empathy with the Thibault family. Parent’s brother, Jeffrey, was also killed in action in Vietnam.
“I have a special place in my heart for those who served in Vietnam,” Parent said.
State Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) expressed that he and state Rep. Kate Hogan (D-Stow) were honored to help get Gov. Charlie Baker to approve the name for the bridge, which is built on state-owned Route 85 property. Hogan read a proclamation declaring the bridge named in memory of Thibault.
The proclamation was given to Kenneth’s brother Robert on behalf of the family. Robert noted that while Kenneth could have been buried at Arlington National Cemetery, his family felt he’d prefer St. Michael Parish Cemetery in Hudson.
“He’d be very happy to know that Hudson is his final resting place,” Robert Thibault said. “I love seeing the town recognizing him.”
A placard proclaiming “Private First Class Kenneth M. Thibault Memorial Bridge” was unveiled by Barry Lorion, director of MassDOT Highway District 3. Replicas of the placard were presented to the Thibault brothers: Donald, Douglas, Laurence and Robert. The dedication ceremony concluded with the HHS band playing “God Bless America.”
(Photos/Ed Karvoski Jr.)