With the sun shining and flags flying, more than a hundred people gathered in Breaux Bridge to celebrate the newly renovated Veterans Park.
"It gives the citizens here something to be proud of in a way to show their respect for the military, and I think for the veterans, it shows they aren’t forgotten. And in the long haul, this is a very patriotic country and, in particular, parish and a city," said Buz LeBlanc, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Breaux Bridge.
After almost 15 years of trying to get the funds, the park on Berard Street is finished with its first phase.
"I would hope that one day I see veterans coming in to share stories and a smile and so forth, talking about the time they spent in the service. Many of them had a rough time. And again, coming in and sharing that with fellow veterans will hopefully make those times a little more pleasant," said Mayor of Breaux Bridge Ricky Calais, who, at the time a city councilman, originally introduced the motion to create this park prior to becoming mayor.
It is stories like those of Special Forces Vietnam veteran Bob Romero and many others that Calais hopes will be shared on the benches of the park.
"I had to travel in my army uniform and beret, and people would call me ‘baby killer’ and spit at me, call me names as we came through the airport, so I spent most of my military career sort of in the shadows, if you would," said Ret. Lt. Romero.
And now, this park serves as an appreciation for all service members.
"So for one time in my life, I come and see this wonderful park, and maybe today’s kids will see it and be like, ‘wow, this must’ve been really cool,’" he said.
You can also purchase an honor brick for $50 on the city of Breaux Bridge’s website or at city hall to commemorate a service member.
"My father was a POW in WWII, and his two brothers were military. I’m going to buy bricks pavers for them here. It’s never too late to recognize the service that someone gave for their country. So, I’m going to put a brick down that says ‘thank you,’" he said.