Hundreds remember fallen military at Port Hudson memorial service

Hundreds remember fallen military at Port Hudson memorial service
Martin Voltaire playing for his late mother (Source: WAFB)
Martin Voltaire playing for his late mother (Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

PORT HUDSON, LA (WAFB) - Hundreds of people from across the Baton Rouge Metro area paid tribute to the country's fallen heroes at a special service in Port Hudson.

At Port Hudson National Cemetery, their loved ones gather each year for a solemn ceremony and a private graveside visit that often times happens only on Memorial Day.

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Lucille Sterling was there to visit her brother Julius Wilson, a U.S. Army Soldier and Vietnam veteran. Sterling was also there to pay respects to her husband of 67 years, U.S. Navy Seaman Oliver Sterling.

"It's important just to know that they are not forgotten. So many people remember. I think it's just beautiful," Sterling said.

Louisiana Secretary of Veteran Affairs Joey Strickland pointed out to those in attendance that the price of freedom has been high. He also acknowledged the personal toll war has had on his family.

"My father-in-law, a 24-year veteran, my son's grandfather. He was a retired Army sergeant, combat veteran of Vietnam is buried right out there," Strickland said.

In the distance, a young man performed for his late mother, U.S. Army Soldier Buanita Voltaire.

"My mother was a 14-year veteran. She served from 1980 to 1994," Martin Voltaire said.

Martin Voltaire said his mother lost her battle to breast cancer six years ago. He stopped playing when his mother died. She was his biggest fan, but now, he said, he has learned it is the best way to honor her.

"If it weren't for her, I don't know where I'd be right now. I thank God for her and her support," Voltaire said.

In their own special way, each person in attendance paused to remember that their lives, our lives, would not be the same without the people being honored there on this Memorial Day.

The Louisiana Office of Veteran Affairs reports an estimated 11,000 people from Louisiana have died in combat.

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