Methuen Memorials Donates Granite Bench

METHUEN - Celeste Vicente eased onto a new granite bench that faces her son's gravestone, a small, satisfied smile forming on her face.

"This is not just for me," she said. "It's for anyone who wants to enjoy it."  Her son, 25-year-old Marine Cpl. David Vicente, was killed in Iraq on March 19, 2004, by an exploding land mine.  She was going each day to his grave, sitting on an $80 concrete bench set up there in Elmwood Cemetery. But three months ago a crime shocked the community - thieves made off with her seat.

Calls to help flooded Mayor William Manzi's office and within two days he arranged to have a new bench at the Marine's grave.  The new model is burglar-proof - 600 pounds of blue-gray granite, drilled and pinioned with stainless steel rods into an underground foundation.  "It's not moving," said Methuen Memorials, the granite company that donated the bench.

Celeste and her husband, Orlando Vicente, gave a hug at the unveiling yesterday during a small dedication ceremony.  Elected officials attending the ceremony were Manzi, state Sen. Steven Baddour and state Rep. Arthur Broadhurst.  "Something unfortunate happened," Manzi said of the bench being stolen. "Something good came of it."

The inscription on the new bench says, "In appreciation from a grateful city in loving memory of Cpl. David Marques Vicente."  A Marine Corps flag flies next to the granite gravestone, which has a Purple Heart engraved.  

Last year, Methuen Memorials donated a 600-pound granite bench in memory of the Marine at the Forest Lake recreation area., North Andover, MA