Catahoula to honor those who serve

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day — originally called Decoration Day — was the act of decorating graves with flowers and flags of someone who lost their life on a battlefield.

In 1971 with the National Holiday Act the date was officially set as the last Monday in the month of May. Memorial Day is one day sat aside for us to remember those who gave their lives so we can live in a free country.

In December of 2000 Congress passed a resolution titled “National Moment of Remembrance” which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps.”

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Four Rivers For All Veterans will have its annual Memorial Program at First Baptist Church in Jonesville at 2 p.m. Sunday. Special guest speaker for the program will be Dr. Dennis LaRavia.

Dr. Dennis LaRavia graduated from Block High School in Jonesville and went on to continue his education at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and Louisiana State University of Medicine in New Orleans.

He was in private medical practice providing primary care in Ferriday for many years. He has been recognized as an outstanding family practice physician by many national boards and organizations.

He was active and served in many positions at LSU-S in Shreveport, LSU-NO in New Orleans, Tulane School of Medicine in New Orleans and E.A. Conway Hospital in Monroe.

He served on active duty with the U.S. Army during Operation Enduring Freedom at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He attained the rank of Colonel and served as brigade surgeon in addition to other assignments with medical battalions and hospitals. He was honorably discharged in 2006. He has organized and served on many medical missions to foreign countries and has been active in civic clubs and organizations.

He is presently serving as Medical Director, Rayburn Correctional Center in Bogalusa.

Another familiar face at the program will be Jonesville native Ret. Lt. Col. Jeff McClure. Jeff has always been so wiling to come home to participate in Catahoula Parish’s memorial and veterans programs. This year Jeff will be emceeing the program as well as leading the pledge of allegiance.

POW from the Korean War Raymond Scotty Wright will be taking Charles Craddock’s job of posting the POW/MIA flag. Charles, a POW from World War II, died May 16.

Craddock always brought in the same POW/MIA flag at every memorial and veteran program. Sunday, May 23, the POW/MIA flag was draped by James “Tuffy” Parish at Charles’s Memorial Service. After the flag is used at the 2010 Memorial Program it will be given to the Craddock Family.

Scotty Wright was in Korea when he was captured as a prisoner. He is one of only three Americans that managed to escape from a Korean Prison Camp.

David Jordan and family from Harrisonburg, La., will be singing the National Anthem and other patriotic songs and the playing of Taps.

A slide show of area veterans who gave their all will also be shown. This will also contain pictures of POWs and a listing of all of the casualties from Catahoula Parish during WWI, WWII, Korean, Vietnam and the War on Terrorism.

Catahoula Parish has given many of its young men during all of these wars with the exception of the present war against terrorism. We have many of our young men and women who have volunteered to fight in the war against terrorism and so far have all been blessed that they have come back home. This is not true in our neighboring parishes; several of their young people have lost their lives so we can continue to know a free America.

Immediately following the program there will be refreshment in the Conn Room of the church provided by American Legion Auxiliary No. 163, Catahoula LaSalle Bank, Southern Heritage Bank, Planter’s Cotton Gin, Judge Kathy Johnson, Alma Womack and myself.

Refreshments will be served by Jonesville Woman’s Club and ladies from First Baptist Church. Hand held flags will be presented to those attending compliments of Jonesville Lions Club and “Buddy Poppies” will be offered for a donation to support the cause by the American Legion Auxiliary.

Four Rivers For All Veterans and First Baptist Church invites and encourages everyone to come to the program as honor is given to those who gave their lives for our freedom.

Ruth King is an organizer of the Four Rivers For All Veterans program and president of American Legion Auxilliary No. 163.