As the country prepares to commemorate Memorial Day next week, Keith Huxen, Ph.D., the senior director of research and history for the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, thinks we should all ponder our freedom and responsibilities. 

Memorial Day remembers those who died fighting for the United States.

“Young people will find that their ancestors found courage, honor and did things they never thought they could or would have to do," Huxen said, "but they did it, and they paid the price then for the freedoms we enjoy today.

“Memorial Day is so important because it is the one day a year where we should not only reflect on what we owe the earlier generations. ... but the day we should also consider what we are willing to do to maintain and expand freedom for the generations to come.”

Memorial Day will be observed nationwide on Monday, May 27. Locally, Jefferson Parish officials will hold a special Memorial Day program at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 23, at Veterans Memorial Square, at the corner of Veterans Memorial and Causeway boulevards.

Jefferson Parish President Michael Yenni will preside over the ceremony, which will begin with the presentation of colors by the Marine Corp League, Paul E. Boyd No. 579, followed by the national anthem, performed by the Marine Forces Reserve Band, New Orleans.

The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by William Friedman, former second district commander for the American Legion for the Department of Louisiana.

The invocation will be given by William Meyer III, chaplain for American Legion Post 397, second district.

Guest speaker will be Col. James Jackson, of the Lake Charles Post No. 1 of the American Legion.

A medley of armed forces music will be performed by the Marine Corps Band New Orleans Brass Quintet, followed by the laying of a wreath.

Benediction will be given by George Tinney, chaplain for American Legion Post 175 followed by the Marine Forces Reserve Band playing taps.

Huxen offered more thoughts about the nature of today's military. “Because today we have a volunteer military force, I believe most people living their lives as free civilians have a large buffer between them and world affairs. When war threatens today, the first line is our volunteer military — our young people don't have to think about a draft.

“This could change one day, but for now, I think that people not only should understand that Memorial Day honors our fallen in the past, but it should also be a reminder of our debt to those volunteers who serve now, and who will be the first fallen in any future wars.”

Riverdale Class of '69 reunion

Members of the 1969 graduating class of Riverdale High School in Old Jefferson will hold a reunion weekend in June.

From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 1, classmates will meet at The Crossing, 519 Williams Blvd., Kenner. And from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, a picnic will be held at shelter 2 at Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie.

The $69 cost includes one ticket to the June 1 event and two tickets to the picnic, which is for adults only. The cost to bring a guest to The Crossing is $50 per person.

For more information, email

Safe boating class

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will conduct a boating safety class from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 25, at the West Bank Regional Library, 2751 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey.

The free class lasts six to eight hours. It includes information on choosing a boat, classification, motors, legal requirements and equipment requirements and more.

Those who complete the course will be issued a vessel operators certification card.

Anyone born after Jan. 1, 1984, must complete a boating education course and carry proof of completion to operate a motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower.

Eva Jacob Barkoff writes about people and events in Jefferson Parish. She can be reached at