Wreaths Across America: From Arlington to Bogalusa

Published 2:02 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2023

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By John N. Gallaspy

It is with pleasure and pride that Magic City Post 24 of the American Legion, as part of this season of Peace and Hope, placed wreaths by the burial places of the women and men who have given of their strength and talents, and all too often their lives, in defending our liberty.

This annual observance originated several years ago in Arlington National Cemetery, and members of the commemoration or burial squad of our Post were at Arlington taking part in ceremonies when they became aware of this event also taking place. They brought notes back to the Louisiana Department of the Legion and it has become one of our Christmas thanksgivings.

To us this seems especially appropriate for us in Washington Parish, what with our background of upholding the votive stones of our freedom. It is little realized that the community of Mt Hermon produced two General officers, Brigadier General Stanley Ott who served in two world wars, and his son who became a Lieutenant (three star) General. The Knight family in Bogalusa gave us Brigadier General Coleman Knight, who is remembered and recorded as a hero of the Battle of the Bulge during Christmas of 1944. We were well represented in France in World War I by our old Company I and all of its wonderfully antic characters. We have been equally participant in the later times of conflict.

It is fit and proper that our memories of these brothers and cousins and leaders be preserved.

325 wreaths are being ordered at a cost to us of $25 each, and we will gladly provide families of deceased veterans a wreath at this cost should they wish to honor a family member’s grave in a cemetery other than our plot. You may call our house manager, Daniel Whittington at 985-503-1027 to place an order; or Jim Burdette 713-817-5133; Donald Kuhn 985-516-9927; Paul Corse 985-516-9923; or Bobby Latino 985-516-0055. The guest speaker will be Sheriff-elect Jason Smith, who as a Marine officer received the Silver Star for conspicuous courage and gallantry under fire.

We thank Sgt. Jack Rogers who will be bringing a unit of our Bogalusa High School Junior R.O.T.C., and also Parish Superintendent Frances Varnado for her unending support of our programs. As we have frequently remarked, we are emphasizing the participation of our youth in our agenda. We’d also like to thank students from Ben’s Ford Catholic School for also assisting with this event.

And when our days shall have known their number and the torch has been passed on, we find hope in President Lincoln’s timeless benediction:

“The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot’s grave to every living heart and hearthstone in this broad land, shall yet sound the chorus of Liberty.”