Gov. John Bel Edwards visiting St. John

Published 12:13 am Saturday, June 25, 2016

Serving as guest speaker at Thursday’s Veteran’s Luncheon

RESERVE — To help honor the local men and women who fought and continue to fight for our freedom, Gov. John Bel Edwards is this year’s guest speaker at the annual St. John the Baptist Parish Veteran’s Luncheon.

Edwards, who was elected Nov. 15, graduated in 1988 from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He served eight years as an Airborne Ranger on active duty with the United States Army and commanded a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Veterans and their families are invited hear Edwards speak at the free luncheon, which begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. Thursday at Regala Gym in Reserve.

St. John Parish Communications Director Baileigh Rebowe Helm said this would be the 16th annual luncheon.

“The purpose of the Veteran’s luncheon is to honor the Veterans and service members for their bravery in fighting for our country and our freedom,” Helm said. “We want to thank them through the luncheon. We are very excited that (Edwards) is our guest speaker this year.”

Helm said attendance at the luncheon has grown over the years.

“When I started in St. John four years ago, we had about 300 people attend,” she said. “This year we expect 450 to 500. We think it means a lot to the Veterans and their families.”

Each year at the luncheon there is a video tribute showing photos submitted by the community. Even though the deadline to turn in photos for this year’s luncheon has passed, Helm said community members could start submitting photos for next year.

“The video has photos of people that have served, are serving and also deceased service members,” Helm said. “We get the photos of them in uniform and put them in a slideshow with music. It’s just a tribute to them for everything they have done for us. I think people enjoy seeing their family members on the big screen.”

Helm said a few local residents who want to show support are preparing food for the Veteran’s lunch.

“They are going to prepare pork, vegetables, a salad and some sort of desert,” Helm said. “It’s a great feeling to know that community members want to be a part of the event by preparing the food. We have a lot of talented chefs that don’t call themselves chefs. We appreciate them, it’s a complete donation.”

The 16th Annual Independence Day Celebration and firework show closes the evening Thursday at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 1550 River Road in Reserve and the St. John Courthouse, 2393 Louisiana 18 in Edgard.

The celebrations begin at 6 p.m., and a live broadcast will air at 7 p.m. The fireworks show begins at 9 p.m.

The East and West Bank celebrations will be broadcasted live on the government access channel for residents to watch at home.