Veterans memorial to be dedicated with fanfare Tuesday

Deidre Cruse
Dedication of the Veterans Wall is set for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

State and local officials, a host of military personnel and military equipment – including an F-15 fighter jet that will fly over – will be in Plaquemine Tuesday for the dedication of the Iberville Parish Veteran’s Memorial.

But, local service men and women will be the honored guests as the parish officially opens the memorial built to honor them, as well as they forebears and successors who have defended the nation.

The ceremony is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Court Street. In the event of rain, the ceremony will be moved indoors to the lobby of the Courthouse.

The memorial, which already has won an architectural award, is a special project of Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. and the Parish Council, the sponsors of the dedication.

Before the ceremony, displays of military equipment, including some from the World War II era, will be open to the public on the grounds starting at 2:30 p.m. Soldiers in full combat gear will be available to answer questions about Army equipment in the Iraq War.

The ceremony also will be preceded by a parade starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Plaquemine Lock on Main Street and ending at the memorial.

All veterans are welcome to ride in the parade. Those who wish to participate should report to the Iberville Museum on Main Street at 3 p.m.

There will be special seating for local veterans at the dedication ceremony. Those who do not wish to ride in the parade will have seating up front.

After the parade ends, the 156th Army Band will play patriotic music until the opening ceremony, starting at around 4 p.m. The Marine Corps Reserve Band also will provide music for the event.

The F-15 fly-over will open the event. Army, Coast Guard and Navy color guards will participate.

District Judge Alvin Batiste Jr., said to be the highest ranking veteran in Iberville Parish, will be the keynote speaker. Batiste was a lieutenant in the U. S. Navy.

U. S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, state Sen. Rob Marionneaux and state Rep. Karen St. Germain are expected to be among the dignitaries attending.

The Fimms Sons, who have performed in the area for many years, will do a song they wrote for the veterans.

A band will play the anthem for each military branch, and veterans will be asked to stand when their branch is recognized.

There will be a rifle salute to MIAs and POWs, and Johnny Boy Wilbert will play taps as a salute to those who died in action.

The ceremony will end with the lighting of the memorial.

The unusual design was developed by Grace & Hebert Architects, APAC. It recently won an honor award from the Louisiana chapter of the American Institute of Architects.