NEW ROADS, LA (WAFB) - When referring to our veterans, we've heard it said "All Gave Some but Some Gave All." How very true.
When speaking with veterans, especially from the Vietnam, Korean or World War II era, you can see the sparkle of pride in their eyes when they describe their service to our country. And often, that spark of pride is blurred with tears when remembering their fellow service men and woman who "gave all" – their very lives – defending our flag.
I was debating which of the many entries to spotlight for WAFB's Hand It On feature Wednesday, September 9, 2015 when I saw our noon news that day. On the news, Lauren Westbrook did a story about the Veterans Monument being proposed for a plot of land the Pointe Coupee General Hospital and parish Police Jury had 'donated' for a monument. Lauren's story was an update on the American Legion's 'brick drive' being conducted to fund the project.
They needed to sell 1,000 bricks for $100 each by a certain deadline before they could even break ground on the project. Lauren's report indicated the deadline was rapidly approaching and they had only sold about 750 bricks.
That's it, I thought. That's where WAFB's Hand It On money could be best spent this week. I met with our Hand It On team and the decision was unanimous: WAFB was going to donate our Hand It On money for this week to the project in honor of veterans everywhere.
Photographer Brandon Shackelford and I drove to New Roads and met with several veterans who each had a vested interest in the monument project.
Among them was Wilmer D. Moore who actually served in three different branches of the military. He was in the Air Force during the Vietnam war. After his tour of duty there, he became a recruiter for the Army National Guard. And Wilmer continues to serve his country to this day as a member of the Coast Guard Reserve.
Then we met Anthony Daisy. Anthony was actually drafted and served in the Vietnam era in the United States Army. Although Anthony did not want to go to war, he said, "Looking back, I would not trade that experience for anything." After literally traveling the world, Anthony said he wanted to "do something" and what better place to do it than his home town of New Roads. So he came back home and is now Mayor Pro Tem.
When I asked him why build the parish monument in New Roads, Anthony said, "Why not New Roads? You know, New Roads, Pointe Coupee Parish carries a lot of history," he explained. "We have a lot of veterans from all wars that have participated. And I think this is the place. And why not New Roads? Why not Point Coupee Parish?" Anthony concluded.
Emmett Jarreau, Sr. is also very passionate about the Pointe Coupee Veterans Monument.
"To be recognized as a military man whether, what branch of service you're in. You look at the sign," Emmett said pointing to the wooden sign displayed
where the actual monument will be constructed. Emmett served in the Marine Corps from 1961 to 1966. He said he, and others, were called names and actually threatened when they returned from Vietnam. "When I got out the service, we didn't get that respect."
George Miller is one of the committee members with the American Legion Post 248 and responsible for helping secure funding for this project. George accepted our Hand It On donation on behalf of veterans everywhere.
"We accept this and we are going to use this money," he explained, "since we're right here on the river, the flags, with thunderstorms come up anytime in Louisiana, tears these flags up a lot. So we'll use this money to replace flags!"
The story has a very happy ending – the organizers of the Pointe Coupee Parish Veterans Monument were able to raise enough money through their brick sales to schedule their ground breaking! It will be on Veteran's Day which is November 11, 2015.
And you may purchase bricks in honor of, or in memory of, a veteran up until December 1, 2015. Your veteran's name and branch of service will be inscribed on the brick you purchase.
For more information, and to download the brick order form, click here.
And if you cannot purchase a brick, Emmitt Jarreau, Sr. told me a great way to honor veterans everywhere, and it won't cost you a thing: "When you see somebody in uniform, go shake their hand with respect," Emmitt said. With respect, indeed.