POINTE COUPEE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - They call themselves The Old Farts Club. One member refers to them as ROMEO. When asked if that stood for anything, he said Retired Old Men Eating Out.
You see, every Friday morning, anywhere from 20 to upwards of 45 men from all over the New Roads area gather at 7:30 a.m. sharp for breakfast at Lucky Pierre's Casino Restaurant and Buffet on Hospital Road near the railroad crossing in New Roads.
This is not just any group of men mind you. However they affectionately refer to themselves, I refer to them as The Greatest Generation. These men are veterans of foreign war that fought for all the freedoms I enjoy to this day. Among them the freedom of speech and the freedom to worship as I please - the freedom of religion.
There's an old saying, "Many gave some, but some gave all." Many of these men lost very dear, close friends in the wars in which they served. Some lost friends standing right next to them in battle and will forever have that memory burned into the screen of their minds.
I was invited to breakfast with the Old Farts Club. This particular day they were honoring one of their own – Retired U.S. Army Reserve Combat Engineer George Miller. George, originally from St. Bernard Parish, was forced to relocate to New Roads in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But his love for not only St. Bernard Parish, but South Louisiana in general, has kept George busier than days when he was working.
His most recent project was the War Veterans Memorial located in his home parish of St. Bernard. George was instrumental in everything from securing the land for the memorial, funding, designing, building and finally the formal dedication ceremony once completed. This was a monumental task, but one George embraced with pride for his country.
Well, now a resident of New Roads in Pointe Coupee Parish, talk began about a similar memorial there. George Miller didn't hesitate. He immediately began the work he was so familiar with from successfully spearheading the St. Bernard Parish memorial not long before.
The Pointe Coupee Parish Hospital dedicated a plot of land directly in front of the hospital for the memorial. In this way, the memorial would be visible from Main Street in New Roads, just past the corner of Hospital Road. No one driving through New Roads could possibly miss it.
George designed it similar to the one in St. Bernard Parish and orchestrated a brick campaign to fund construction. People could purchase bricks for $100 each in memory of, or honor of, a family member or friend who served in any war.
With help from the American Legion, George Miller successfully sold out the 1,566 bricks needed to pay for the project. And there were still requests
to purchase bricks! So the memorial had to be expanded to accommodate more veterans' names on their bricks.
After over a year in the works, the Pointe Coupee War Veterans Memorial has been completed and will be dedicated at a formal ceremony Saturday, June 18 at 10 a.m.
As a small token of appreciation, World War II Army veteran Warren Braud, contact WAFB to nominate Mr. George Miller for WAFB's Hand It On spotlight. A key member of the Old Farts Club who was very instrumental in pulling this surprise meeting together was Kearn Roy, a 10-year veteran from the 767th Signal Battalion of the United States National Guard.
And what more fitting location to make the Hand It On presentation than the Old Farts' breakfast on a Friday morning. So we did.
Warren Braud was helped up on his walker as he began.
"I'm here this morning to do special favor to somebody," Warren said, addressing the entire room, not necessarily George. "We have a man in here who is responsible for developing the veterans monument and memorial. He's been a St. Bernard evacuee."
At that time George Miller pretty much knew he was the 'victim' of whatever was about to happen.
"So we'd like to honor George today for developing that monument. It's a beautiful thing," Braud said. "We'd like to honor him today and we'd like to Hand It On to George, $300."
"Thank you, thank you," a surprised George addressed the breakfast crowd. "But this goes out to all the veterans. That was the whole thing about this whole project. Because without our WWI, WWII, and all the veterans, we wouldn't be enjoying such a great gathering right now. So I thank all of y'all, this whole group for showing up."
Come celebrate the dedication of this incredible memorial Saturday, June 18 at 10 a.m. on the grounds of the Pointe Coupee Parish Hospital on Main Street in New Roads, just past Hospital Road. Among the honorees in attendance, you'll meet Mr. Dixon, a 98-year-old World War I veteran.
Come. Stay. Hear their stories. You will very quickly realize why these men and women truly are The Greatest Generation.
To nominate someone for WAFB's Hand It On, send an e-mail to HandItOn@WAFB.com. Make sure to include your contact information especially your phone number.