Veterans Memorial Sets Dedication
The St. Landry Parish Veterans Memorial — a project 10 years in the making that has experienced setbacks and obstacles over the years — has announced its opening ceremony. Pat Mason-Guillory said a formal dedication ceremony has been set for 6 p.m. Sept. 10. “There is still a lot of work to do on the park, but for the dedication, it’s ready,” she said Wednesday. “The granite facing panels are up; the seals are in place. We are ready to go,” said Mason-Guillory, who has headed the project since it began in 2004. The committee had hoped to dedicate the monument on Memorial Day. But its five large, black granite panels, inscribed in gold with the names of every St. Landry Parish veteran who has died in the line of duty since World War I, were not yet ready. Mason-Guillory said that delay gave the committee time to install even more paving bricks on the monument’s various walkways.
The main walkway from the parking lot of the memorial, located at 5348 La. 182 just south of Opelousas, has been reserved as a walk of honor that celebrates various individuals who have served. Engraved paving bricks with the names of project supporters fan out from the central pentagon-shaped monument adorned by a larger than life-sized statue of a kneeling soldier. Italian sculptor Franco Alessandrini, who also created the Father Verbis LaFleur monument at St. Landry Catholic Church, created the centerpiece bronze statue. “I can’t wait to unveil that statue,” Mason-Guillory said. She said the committee has installed more than 1,600 of the engraved paving bricks so far.
While volunteers are still working on the 10-acre park around the monument, Mason-Guillory said it is already looking good. In addition to flags and park benches, crews have planted 21 oak trees and special trees dedicated to individuals. One of those is a Savannah Holly Tree donated by local businessman Bobby Dupre in honor of Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg. President Barack Obama last year honored Remsburg’s story of courage and sacrifice during his State of the Union message. Dupre saved St. Landry’s monument project by donating the land. The monument was days from a groundbreaking ceremony years ago on a site near the entrance to Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino. At the last minute, the Downs withdrew its donation and said it could only lease the site to the committee. Because the monument is intended to honor local veterans for generations to come, a lease wasn’t acceptable and the project was knocked back to square one. Mason-Guillory said it has been a long and at times difficult road, but she added that she’s confident the people of St. Landry Parish will be happy with the result. “All of our committee is so happy now. It is going to be really, really something to see,” Mason-Guillory said.
For more information, call her at 337-692.1133 or reach her by email at email@example.com.
Want to go?
What: St. Landry Parish Veterans Memorial dedication ceremony
When: 6 p.m. Sept. 10
Where: 5348 La. 182, immediately south of Opelousas
*Courtesy of the Daily World