Fort Polk salutes World War II veterans

By By Lauren Manary / American Press

World War II veteran Cecil Walker uses poetry to help him describe his feelings about his time in the service and the flashbacks

that haunted him in the years following.

Walker, a former U.S. Army ambulance

driver and poet, was the special guest speaker at Fort Polk’s Veterans

Day ceremony Thursday.

He has written and recited poems for service member funerals.

Poetry serves as a coping mechanism for him, he said, and helps

to convey the emotional warfare endured by service members who

have seen combat.

“My war experience it was not too awful or horrible,” Walker said. “I was never hit with ammunition of any kind, I don’t have

any wounds, flesh wounds, but I did see some awful things and of course, I have flashbacks from that, from what I saw.”

Walker recited two original poems at the event.

“I live the war over everyday,” said Walker, 90, reciting his poem “Sacrifice: a Trooper’s Gift to His Country.” “How many

time does a man have to pay?”

Brigadier Gen. William Hickman delivered the keynote address at the ceremony.

“On Veteran’s Day, I think about the 22 million former service members who never thought of themselves as special,” he said.

“They thought of themselves as just doing their jobs.”

Rep. John Fleming, who represents Louisiana’s 4th district and serves on the House Armed Services Committee, said Veterans

Day is an important symbolic gesture to those who served and are still serving today.

“We have, of course, millions of

veterans still living going all the way back to World War II, and we

want to remember and

certainly acknowledge and celebrate and, of course, many veterans

who have gone on before,” Fleming said. “So we’re here today

to recognize and acknowledge them and also to recommit ourselves

to those surviving veterans, many of those still injured

in some way, without a limb or two and then make a commitment to

future veterans.”

World War II Navy veteran Jack Jones

was one of dozens of local retired service members who attended the

event. He served

on the USS Tennessee during Pearl Harbor, and was on a submarine

in the North Atlantic after the war ended. He is likely to

be one of the few remaining World War II veterans still alive who

fought in both the first and the last battles of the war.

He said life after war, for him, was an exercise in forgetting.

“After the war was over, I put it aside and went to work, made a life, had a family,” he said. “I just kind of put it aside.”

162d Infantry Brigade soldiers MSG. Michael Gibson and SFC. Marc Krugh laid the wreath at Warrior Field, commemorating the

veterans who served and those who died in combat. A veteran from each war since World War II was invited to stand and salute the wreath as “Taps,” the traditional song played in remembrance of fallen service members,

was played by SFC. Francesca Curry of the 115th Combat Support Hospital.

List of Veterans Day Events

Calcasieu

Sulphur Veterans Day parade:

9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, Maplewood Drive. The parade will feature

the Fort Polk 162nd Infantry Brigade. Lineup will be

at 8:30 a.m.; all entries must be in place by 9:30 a.m. Parade

participants will enter from Beglis Parkway onto the west end

of Maplewood Drive, between Walgreens and Kroger. After the

parade, event-goers are invited to the SPAR Aquatics Center, 933

West Parish Road, where there will by a small car show and free

laser tag.

Douglas B. Fournet statue dedication: 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, Veterans Memorial Park. A reception will be in the Civic Center Contraband Room after the ceremony.

Fournet, a native of Lake Charles, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in April 1970.

Free meal: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, Le Beaucoup Buffet at the L’Auberge Casino Resort. Veterans and active-duty military personnel

can get a complimentary breakfast or lunch.

Veterans breakfast: 9-10:30 a.m. today, Nov. 8, S.P. Arnett Middle School library, 400 Sulphur Ave., Westlake.

Take a veteran to school day: 9 a.m. today, Nov. 8, J.J. Johnson Elementary School, 500 Malcolm St. Students will learn more about the history of Veterans

Day and about the experiences of veterans from all backgrounds and walks of life.

Veterans Day program for families: 9-10

a.m. today, Nov. 8, Combre-Fondel Elementary School, 2115 Fitzenreiter

Road. Students are inviting family members who

served in the military to check out the school’s “Avenue of Flags”

in the front of the campus; hear pre-K students sing “Parade

of Stars”; attend a reading of the history of each branch of the

service; and watch the Washington-Marion High School Honor

Guard present the colors.

Avenue of Flags:

8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, Orange Grove-Graceland Cemetery. Casket

flags will line the drive through the cemetery in

honor of fallen service members. The event will feature a history

circle with replicas of eight previous U.S. flags. The memorial

flags measure 5 by 912 feet.

Beauregard

Veterans Day Camp: 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, BeauCare, 628 High School Drive. Camp is for ages 6-17. Fee for meal and supplies is

$18 for ages 6-10 and $10 for ages 11-17. Call 462-2273 or visit www.beaucares.org.

Jeff Davis

Veterans program: 9 a.m. today, Nov. 8. Welsh High School and Welsh Elementary School will hold program in the high school gym. Veterans are

invited.

Veterans Day at Veterans Home: 9:30 a.m. today, Nov. 8, Southwest Louisiana War Veterans Home, 1610 Evangeline Road, Jennings. There will be patriotic music

and special readings. Guest speaker will be Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jerroll G. Arana.

Veterans plaque dedication:

9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, Veteran’s Park, South Adams Street in Welsh. A

flag retirement ceremony sponsored by the Welsh American

Legion, VFW and Daughters of the American Revolution Live Oak

Chapter will follow at the Welsh Museum, 202 E. South St. Refreshments

will be served.

Veterans Day program: 8:15 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11, James Ward Elementary School, 208 Shankland Ave., Jennings. Veterans and the public are invited

to attend. Veteran family members may join their children or grandchildren for breakfast at 7 a.m. in the cafeteria. Call

824-1235.

Allen

Veterans coffee: Veterans are invited to visit any branch of the Allen Parish Library for coffee and doughnuts throughout the day Monday, Nov.

11. Displays of new military books and videos will be available.

Veterans program: 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11, Kinder Elementary School gym. A reception honoring local veterans will be held in the school library

afterward.

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