Tuesday, November 15, 2011
In honor of local Veterans, St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marines directed by Lt. Brian Bertrand and St. John Parish President Robottom’s staff hosted the first annual St. John Parish Veterans Day Parade and Celebration. The parade began at Home Depot in LaPlace and traveled down Airline Highway to the Southeast Louisiana (SELA) War Veterans Home in Reserve for food, fun and music.
The parade of convertibles, jeeps, motorcycles and service oriented vehicles traveled slowly along Airline Highway as residents and business owners lined the parade route to honor local veterans. The parade concluded at the War Veterans Home where family members, friends and other residents attended the scheduled program at 11:00 am to coincide with the date of 11/11/11. Groups of students and children from the community also visited veterans and presented them with thank you cards. The Louisiana Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association presented the War Veterans Home with a check for $1,127.00 raised through their poker run.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the response to this first time event, which was spearheaded by Lt. Brian Bertrand. The parade and celebration are the least we could do to show our appreciation for our veterans. We look forward to an even bigger and better event next year,” said Parish President Natalie Robottom.
Many veterans rode in the parade, as others joined the celebration at the parade’s conclusion. Garyville resident Clyde Hymel, a United States Marine from World War II stated, “This feels just great. The outpouring of support from strangers thanking us and showing their respect really means a lot. Every veteran will tell you that.” Other veterans shared wartime stories and expressed their excitement about the Veterans Day event. “I gave my life to the Army and I enjoyed it,” said Richard Laurent. Mr. Laurent is one of the newest residents at the SELA War Veterans Home and a former employee of the Governor’s Office, serving five Governors. Mr. Larry Smith, an Army veteran, also shared his stories and expressed how lucky he is to be at the home.
“The event turned out to be bigger than I ever could have imagined,” stated Lt. Bertrand. “This is what it is all about, gathering the veterans together to celebrate their sacrifices and their lives. You can see that it truly means a lot to them,” he said.