101-year-old Louisiana veteran receives Purple Heart
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - After more than seven decades of waiting, a Louisiana veteran was honored with a Purple Heart Saturday, June 6.
World War II veteran Johnnie Jones received the Purple Heart during a ceremony attended by state leaders at Louisiana’s Old State Capital in downtown Baton Rouge.
The 101-year-old veteran earned this honor for fighting, while injured, on the beaches of Normandy.
Jones said he always wondered if this day would ever come.
“They’re always showing me a lot of honors now, which I never thought I would ever receive,” Jones said.
Among those who attended was retired Lt. General Russel L. Honore. Honore is famed in the state for his role in recovery efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He most recently led a probe in a January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“[Jones] was fortunate enough to survive his injuries fought through the war,” Honore said. “He came home and lived to the constitution and may the constitution do what it promised that we were all created equal.”
Jones went several years without proper recognition for service, until U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) learned of Jones’ story.
Shortly after, Cassidy started the process for Jones to receive the Purple Heart.
Cassidy says the process to receive the award usually takes a year to complete, but due to Jones’ wait, it was expedited and finished in four months.
“Here’s a man who could be bitter, but he speaks only of affection and he speaks not of himself, but his love of our state and of our nation and his desire that everyone have the same opportunity to enjoy the blessings of the state in nation,” Cassidy said.
After completing his service in the military, Jones earned a bachelor’s and law degree from Southern University. He would then go on to represent the organizers of the Baton Rouge Bus Boycott.
“If you know the story of the Baton Rouge Bus Boycott, which was the example which led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which is the example that led to the end of Jim Crow laws, to the extension of civil rights to all Americans no matter who they are. That began with an effort with Johnnie Jones,” Cassidy said.
At the event Saturday, Chancellor John Pierre from Southern University’s Law Center honored Jones with a juris doctorate degree.
Jones says after everything he went through, he is glad the country finally came to embrace him for who he is.
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