Ground broke this month on St. Charles Parish’s future Veterans Memorial Plaza – a project that has been a work in progress across three administrations.
“I am very excited to be here with you all today as we break ground on a project that has truly been years in the making,” Parish President Matthew Jewell said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Parish President V.J. St. Pierre was the initial visionary of this project. As a veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Parish President St. Pierre understands the importance of having a place for our residents to honor our living veterans and a place to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
Jewell said there are nearly 3,000 veterans living in St. Charles Parish.
“These men and women are real life heroes,” he said. “Instead of capes and suits, they wore camo and Kevlar, and they stood guard against foreign threats so we could sleep in peace. They didn’t come from far off lands. They are our neighbors, family and friends. While they don’t require or seek out accolades or need statues to be erected in their name, they most certainly deserve it.”
The Veterans Memorial Plaza will be located next to the Edward A. Dufresne Community Center in Luling and will honor all five branches of the Armed Forces. The plaza will also house the state’s second Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, which provides a place of permanence for Gold Star Families to gather.
The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument has four panels recognizing Homeland, Family, Patriot and Sacrifice. Organizers said the highlight of the monument is a silhouette of a saluting service member, representing the legacy of loved ones who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.
The plaza will also feature a POW/MIA statue to recognize American prisoners of war and those missing in action, as well as a Purple Heart Memorial. Plans are for the VFW and the American Legion to sell personalized bricks that will pave the way to the Gold Star Families Monument.
Once completed, parish officials said the plaza will serve as a host for all Veterans Day Ceremonies and other tributes to the Armed Forces in the parish. LED lights will frame the plaza, which will allow access for evening tributes and provide nighttime visibility from the Hale Boggs Bridge.
Jewell thanked Philips 66 for their $100,000 donation to the $1 million project. Funding for the project is coming from the parish’s recreation fund.