Take time to celebrate Veterans Day in St. John Parish

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 10, 2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic is looking up after nearly 20 difficult months, but it’s still important to protect the vulnerable members of our community on Veterans Day as we celebrate all who have served our country.

The Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home is honoring our heroes by presenting the annual Veterans Day parade at 2 p.m. Wednesday, November 10. Family, friends and neighbors are invited to line up on the street in front of REGALA Gymnasium to join in on the action.

Participants are asked to avoid throws and please remain in your vehicle at all times to promote safe social distancing. I encourage all to drive by and wave to the veterans to let them know they are in our hearts on this special day.

My grandfather, Dominick J. Cuti, moved into the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home a few short months ago after Hurricane Ida did a number on his house in Norco. This week marks exactly one year since he lost his wife of 66 years. This past July, he survived being hospitalized with COVID-19, and he will celebrate his 90th birthday this December.

On top of other health challenges, he also has Alzheimer’s disease, making it difficult for him to be fully engaged in the present.

He isn’t able to recall my name; he’s more likely to answer, “that’s my sweetheart,” when asked to identify any family member. Yet, I’ve felt more connected to him than ever in these past few years.

His jolly spirit is infectious. No matter what’s happening in the world, he finds beauty in everyday moments and often calls out, “Hallelujah!” when something pleases him, even when it’s as simple as someone saying they had enough to eat.

I know it was a difficult decision for my mother and her four siblings to move him into the Veterans Home after caring for him in shifts around the clock for the past year. It was even harder having to follow COVID-19 protocols and maintain distance during that first visit with him.

He appeared to be in good spirits and even declared, “All of you are angels!” in the video my mom showed me. I visited the Veterans Home several times prior to the pandemic to cover stories for L’OBSERVATEUR, and I found that the facility is well-maintained and the staff is concerned with meeting the physical and emotional needs of the residents.

In times like these, it’s important to remind our veterans that they are not alone, even if we need to keep our distance to celebrate them.

For more information about the Veterans Day parade, please contact 985-479-4080.

Brooke R. Cantrelle is news editor for L’OBSERVATEUR. She can be reached at brooke.robichaux@lobservateur.com.