Friday, November 14, 2014
In honor of service members and their families, 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 fourth Annual St. John Parish Veterans Parade and Celebration on Tuesday. 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.
State Representative Randal Gaines, Parish President Natalie Robottom, Council members and other local elected officials and community members attended the celebration to express their gratitude to veterans and their families. Representative Gaines served as the guest speaker, while remarks were provided by President Robottom, Sheriff Michael Tregre, SELA War Veterans Home resident Guy Engolio, and Janice Church (poem). The veteran's home also received monetary donations from several groups toward their recreation programs.
Prior to becoming a distinguished attorney and State Representative, Gaines played leadership roles in some of the most significant military actions and crises in the nation’s history, including serving as Captain and Lt. Colonel in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. Representative Gaines coordinated the evacuation of over 300 wounded soldiers from combat zone and was also awarded the Louisiana Cross of Merit for his leadership and bravery during Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he served as Military Advisor and Medical Support Coordinator for Task Force New Orleans. “The most important thing we can give our Veterans is appreciation,” Gaines said. “With great sacrifice should come great gratitude, they deserve backup and support for all they have done.”
Parish President Robottom began by acknowledging the Young Marines, the Reserve Veterans Home and all who assist Veterans on a daily basis for their selfless service. “St. John is proud to be home to the War Veterans Home and it is extremely touching to house all of you in our Parish,” Robottom said. “We will continue to honor and remember you at events throughout the year and we proudly say thank you from our Parish officials and residents.”
The St. John Parish Young Marines plan to carry on the November 11 event for years to come. “As a veteran myself, I speak for each of the Veterans when I say it makes me smile and even get choked up when I see my fellow Americans standing by the road waving that very American Flag as we pass,” said Lt. Bertrand. “This is what Veterans Day is about and this is why we will always celebrate their day and give everyone in the community a chance to say thank you.”