St. John Parish Veterans Honored with Parade and Celebration
Thursday, November 14, 2013
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH – In honor and remembrance of local veterans, the St. John Parish Young Marines directed, by Lt. Brian Bertrand, the Southeast Louisiana (SELA) War Veterans Home staff, and St. John Parish Government hosted the Third Annual St. John Parish Veterans Parade and Celebration on Monday. The parade of convertibles, jeeps, motorcycles and service-oriented vehicles began at Home Depot in LaPlace and ended at the SELA War Veterans Home in Reserve for a ceremony, food, and music.
Parish President Natalie Robottom, State Representative Randal Gaines, and Council members Cheryl Millet, Larry Snyder and Marvin Perilloux were on hand for the celebration and to express their gratitude to the veterans and their families. The program was comprised of a variety of guest speakers, including Parish President Robottom, SELA War Veterans Home resident Guy Engolio, Janice Church (poem), Colonel Robert Maness of the U.S. Air Force (Ret.) and Lt. General Richard P. Mills, Commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North.
Previously, General Mills commanded the I Marine Expeditionary Force, deployed to Afghanistan in April 2010, and assumed command of all Marine combat units in the country at that time. “It is an honor and a privilege to stand here among heroes,” Lt. General Mills told the Veterans. “I have traveled near and far, and you have truly set the standard for the younger generation and for the soldiers in combat as we speak. We need heroes like you, for you are the bedrock of America,” he added.
Parish President Robottom reassured the Veterans that the Parish would continue to honor and remember them at events throughout the year. “We will always keep you in the highest regard and never forget your sacrifices for our freedom and for our country,” she said. “Today is not a shopping day or just a day off of work, today we recognize and thank you with this small token of our appreciation.”
The program also included a balloon release, a flag folding ceremony and a 21 gun salute. The New Orleans Marine Corps Band serenaded attendees with patriotic music before and during the ceremony and the Louis Ford Jazz Band provided music following the ceremony. Jambalaya, pizza, drinks and cake were provided for all who attended. Engolio, a Korean War Veteran, shared his appreciation for all of the memories from his service as he reminisced about his “glory days” with comrades at the celebration.
The St. John Parish Young Marines plan to recognize veterans each year on November 11. “The event is definitely growing,” said Lt. Bertrand. “As long as it remains a salute to our Veterans we hope to make next year even better.”