Ascension honors its Veterans with annual program

Leslie D. Rose @Editor_Citizen

Celebrating with a much smaller crowd this year, The Ascension Veterans Association hosted its annual Veterans Days program at the Ascension Veterans Park in Gonzales.

The shortened program featured the St. Amant Junior ROTC who presented the colors, a salute to all war Veterans, the Pledge of Allegiance led by John Herren, the singing of the national anthem by Kayla Babin, and various speeches by Ascension Veterans and public officials.

In her opening, Tanya Whitney of the Ascension Veterans Association said that Veterans Day is one of the most significant days of remembrance for Veterans as it occurs on what was originally Armistice Day - the cessation of World War I which took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 - thus Veterans Day is always celebrated on Nov. 11.

The invocation and benediction was given by Jerry Nobles.

Parish President Kenny Matassa welcomed the audience.

A Veteran understands what America really is,” Matassa said. “America is a place of promise, it is a place of hope, it is a place where family means everything. Thank you to each and every Veteran for putting on your uniform and upholding our nation and our children in your hearts and your hands.”

Col. Cindy Haygood, Commander of the 225th Engineer Brigade was the guest speaker.

Haygood noted that only one percent of Americans serve in the Armed Forces.

It’s honor to stand before you - it’s an honor to continue to serve,” Haygood said. “I’d love to see more young men and women join the Armed Forces so that we can continue to protect our country.”

A presentation for those soldiers Missing in Action was performed by the chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America.

Shortly after Cida Gisclair - the wife of deceased Vietnam Veteran, Robert Gisclair - spoke about her late husband’s book, "Singing to the Lions" - a fictional, yet realistic depiction of the war.

Janet Broussard, President of Blue Star Mothers Chapter 1 of Louisiana gave a tearful speech on what it’s like to be a parent of soldiers who serve at war.

We literally hold our breaths until they return, and what a great day it is when they come home. I often say it’s almost as good as the day they were born,” Broussard said. “Then we notice the changes - he longer smiles like he used to, he has to sit facing the door at restaurants. Family gatherings no longer interest him. Sometimes he self medicates just to hide the war inside his head.

War isn’t just what you see on TV - it’s real - it has lasting effects and not all wounds are visible.”

The program ended with refreshments provided by Ascension Funeral Home.