U. S. military honored at Iberville Parish Veterans Memorial celebration

PETER SILAS PASQUA news@postsouth.com
Baton Rouge Pipe and Drums performs America the Beautiful during the Iberville Salute to Veterans on Sunday afternoon at the Iberville Parish Veterans Memorial. 
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

Past and present servicemen of the United States' military were honored during a ceremony at the Iberville Parish Veterans Memorial on Veterans Day Sunday afternoon.

It marked the fifth year of the celebration sponsored by the Iberville Parish Council that includes a memorial wall of photos for more than 1,700 veterans and active military personnel who have ties to the area.

"I had a vision for this monument but it couldn't have been carried out without you," Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. said. "We want to thank each and every one of you for being out here to honor our men and women who have served our great country. All of us are beneficiaries of sacrifices made by the people's faces that I see on that wall and veterans across the country."

U.S. Army Veteran James "Fry" Hymel served as master of ceremonies.

"We are her for one purpose and one purpose alone," Hymel said. "To honor those who have served in the military."

Rev. Ken Austin, pastor of Bayou Plaquemine Baptist Church and an Army veteran, gave the invocation.

"We ask for protection for those in combat and gives thanks to those who have fought for our country," Austin said.

A joint military services color guard presented the colors and musical performances were rendered by The Iberville Math, Science and Arts Academy Orchestra under the direction of conductor Michael Berthelot, the Baton Rouge Pipe and Drums and The Simms Sons.

"The real heroes are on this wall and those sitting out here today," Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said. "I shutter to think what kind of country we would have today without them."

Brigadier General Joanne Sheridan was the guest speaker and noted that what is known today as Veterans Day was originally proclaimed Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson on Nov. 11, 1919.

Sheridan then reflected her definition of a hero stating that as children we often look up to celebrities and athletes before our opinions change.

"We come to realize that the ability to jump from the foul line and dunk a basketball is not heroic," Sheridan said. "It is merely an example of extreme talent and athleticism.'

Sheridan also said being the fastest swimmer, returning an interception for a touchdown or being elected to public office is not in of itself heroic.

"These things are inspiring, glamorous and sometimes awe inspiring but they are not heroic," Sheridan said.

Service to others is central to the concept of heroism, according to Sheridan

"Now as a member of the military, I need not look to the glamorous lives of celebrities and athletes or even to the pages of history to find heroes because I am constantly surrounded by them," Sheridan said.

Families and friends of those "who wear the uniform" were included in Sheridan's definition.

"Every spouse who keeps the children fed, books read and prayers said to insure that a house is a home is a hero," Sheridan said.

Sheridan also noted President George Washington said young people's interest in the military will directly be compared to how veterans are viewed and treated.

The Westside Honor Guard then conducted a rifle salute in recognition of MIAs and POWs after the playing of TAPS by Johnny Wilbert and Blane Palazzo in honor of service personnel who their lives in service.

All past and present serviceman where then recognized according to their branch before a closing prayer by Rev. Leonard Johnson, pastor of St. Joseph Baptist Church and an Air Force veteran.

Cub Scout Pack #21 presented programs and small American flags to attendees and Danny's Catering provided a baked chicken dinner upon conclusion.