Fallen heroes remembered

Staff reports
On Armed Forces Day May 16, Scout Pack 399 sponsored by American Legion Hall 81, paid its respects to fallen soldiers. After going around to local cemeteries, the troop arrived back at the Legion Hall in Gonzales and participated in a Flag Retirement Ceremony. Each scout brought a flag, after which the flag was placed and burned.

The Memorial Park Committee hosted a Memorial Day celebration in Gonzales in honor of veterans who have sacrificed their lives in order that Americans can enjoy their freedom.

The program was scheduled to be held at the Veterans Memorial Park at 612 South Irma Boulevard, but was moved indoors to the nearby National Guard facility due to inclement weather.

Guest speaker was Lt. Col. Cindy Haygood.

The program started at 11 a.m. and food and refreshments were served following the event and ceremonies.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and celebrated as a day of remembrance for those who died in the service of the nation.

It was officially proclaimed in on May 5, 1868 by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and then first observed on May 30 of that year as flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

The day was not celebrated in the South until after World War I when the holiday was changed from honoring only those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring American soldiers who died fighting in any war.

Memorial Day is now celebrated on May 25.

Following the local ceremony, Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez planted one of two a pear saplings donated by Mike Bourgeois, a master gardener and long-time food bank volunteer whose family hails from Ascension Parish.

Parish Councilman Benny Johnson planted the second tree, assisted by his son Jacob, a member of Webelo Scout Pack 778, sponsored by Carpenter’s Chapel.

The trees were planted to initiate a new Memorial Donation Orchard as a living tribute to the sacrifice of Ascension Parish residents who have died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, and as a tribute to Ascension Parish employees who have died in the line of their duties while serving the parish.

Annual harvests from the trees will be donated in honor of these soldiers to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, which has five food rescue member agencies in Ascension Parish.

From left, Parish President Tommy Martinez, Master Gardener Mike Bourgeois, Parish Councilman Benny Johnson and his son Jacob, participate in a Memorial Day tree planting ceremony.