Paying tribute to veterans

Published 3:19 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2023

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RESERVE — Parish President Jaclyn Hotard and the St. John the Baptist Parish Council hosted the 18th annual Veterans Luncheon at REGALA Gymnasium on July 3 as part of the parish-wide Independence Day celebration.

Mrs. Nicondra Norwood served as the mistress of ceremonies, and Father Cyril Buyeera of Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church opened the event with a prayer. World War II veteran Mr. Benny Robichaux led the Pledge of Allegiance following a presentation of colors by the St. John Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard. Gabrielle Treas sang the National Anthem.

Parish President Hotard offered the welcome message to honor our nation’s heroes.

“We as a parish, and I as parish president, offer a heartfelt thank you to every neighbor, every resident and every person who has ever worn the uniform of the United States of America. Thank you for answering the call of duty; thank you for your courage; and thank you for the extraordinary sacrifices you and your family have made on our behalf in the name of freedom, liberty and peace,” Hotard said. “The Bible states that there is no greater love than for someone to lay down their life for their friends. Many men and women from our community paid for our freedom with their lives, for the freedom and privilege to stand here with our own families today. We can never forget that sacrifice of our heroes. We must never forget the heroes who are currently serving around the globe, those who are continuing to protect the democracy that we cherish. We salute our veterans and all members of our armed forces whose unwavering commitment and sacrifice help to preserve our great country.”

Veterans and their loved ones listened intently to keynote speaker General David Mize of the U.S. Marine Corps. The program also included a Blessing of the Food by the Rev. CJ Mellaire Sr. of Second African Baptist Church, a video tribute, words from Vietnam era Army veteran Mr. Robert Craighead, a performance by the Victory Belles, an American Legion drawing, and a closing prayer from Pastor Laurie T. Parker of Voice of Truth Fellowship Church. Treas ended the program, singing “America the Beautiful.”

This year’s Independence Day events were made successful by the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 383, Coca-Cola, Mr. Reed Alexander and kitchen crew, Rotary Club of LaPlace, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, the St. John Parish District Attorney’s Office, St. John the Baptist Parish Fire Department, the St. John Parks & Recreation Department, the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office, St. Peter Catholic Church, Rocky’s Fox Trot Orchestra, and many volunteers.

Photos by Mitch Elfer.