A day of remembrance

The Patriot Guard Riders Motorcycle Club brought out an empty to coffin to symbolize fallen troops at the Memorial Day program in Gonzales on Monday.

Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez said Memorial Day isn’t being celebrated for its true meaning like it should at the Ascension Veteran’s Association program on Monday.

“Kids think about the last days of school, people here in Gonzales think about the Jambalaya Festival and we as a population think of Memorial Day as the first holiday of the summer,” Martinez said. “The ultimate goal is to get everyone to remember the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to be here today.”

Martinez spoke to a large crowd at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Gonzales and said the last time he checked there were over 1,000 men and women who died in the line of duty from Ascension Parish, “so we have a lot to remember and honor.

“Today is a day of remembrance, and today is the day that we remember all of the fallen soldiers who died sacrificing us so we could have a day like today where we can gather as a free nation,” Martinez said.

The AVA program featured multiple participants including songs by a multi high school choir, high JROTC and others. The Local Chapter of Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle club also stood guard over a coffin symbolizing the fallen soldiers during the program.

Tanya Whitney, Ascension Veteran’s Association Chairman, said sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance.

“Far too often the nation takes for granted the freedoms all Americans enjoy,” Whitney said. “Those freedoms were paid for with the lives of others a few of us actually knew.”

Whitney said the gathering is to honor the memory of those who offered their life and service to the nation’s cause and “proudly we remember their service because of the brave men and women, like our comrades, we live in a world of freedom, peace and justice.”

“May our ceremonies of today deepen our reverence. May us each cherish their virtues and learn to imitate them,” Whitney said. “Let each of us be loyal and faithful to our remaining missions in life that we too will be able to continue to enjoy our freedoms. This is a national debt that can only truly be repaid by individual Americans.”