LIVINGSTON — A 1982 monument to Livingston Parish military veterans who died during four different foreign conflicts has a new home.
The monument, which was relocated from grounds shaded by oak trees near the Old Courthouse to a more visible site at the new courthouse, was rededicated June 5.
For 36 years, the monument greeted visitors at the rear entrance of the Old Courthouse, and now it will serve to greet a new generation of courthouse visitors. The monument’s new location is in a newly landscaped circle directly in front of the new courthouse, 20300 Government Blvd.
The monument, which lists the names of Livingston Parish residents who died in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, is headed by the proclamation “In Memory of All War Veterans of Livingston Parish.” Below that declaration are the words “They Gave Their Today for Our Tomorrows.”
Members of the current Leadership Livingston, a group formed by the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce, decided last year that for their class’ public service project, they would move the monument to the new courthouse for better visibility. The group raised the necessary funds for the relocation and secured all arrangements necessary for the move. Adam Avery, a member of that class, said he and his fellow Leadership Livingston teammates thought the move would serve a public purpose while enhancing the memories of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines whose names are listed on the marker.
Jack Varnado, of the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, who was emcee for the rededication ceremony, said the monument is a constant "reminder for all who enter this building that the names of those listed here gave their lives in defense of our nation and its freedoms. As a community service project, members of this year’s class of Leadership Livingston chose to move the monument to its new location where it will be seen by many more people. It is only fitting that we honor those who have fallen in battle and we continue to honor their memory by placing their names in a prominent place in our parish.”
The event’s keynote speaker, Parish Councilman Tracy Girlinghouse, opened his remarks by observing that it was an honor and a privilege to once again have a reason to speak to the memory of those he termed “fallen heroes.”
“Those whose names are on this monument came from all walks of life, but they brought with them the virtues of courage, pride, dedication selflessness, devotion and a love for their country," he said. "They didn’t leave their homes because they enjoyed fighting; they did it because for them it was a sense of duty. They rose up in defense of their nation and its values, and they ultimately paid the highest price possible, their own lives.
“Our presence here today is proof that we remember the great sacrifice that these individuals made in the wars in which they were engaged."
The speaker recounted the many wars in which U.S. military have been engaged and said that in every conflict, the nation’s best have not failed in their duty to defend their country. “Freedom is never free. … It comes at a high cost … and those whom we honor on this monument deserve our unending recognition and respect," he said. "Our freedoms were bought and paid for by those we are here to honor today. We must never, ever forget what they did for us. It is an honor to place this monument in a new location where it will remain as a reminder of what these heroes did for all of us."
The American flag was presented by members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7017, and the national anthem was sung by Mallory Taylor.