Veterans, fallen comrades honored with flags

Peter Silas Pasqua
Leonard Ceasar and Gerald Carbo place a flag in the potholder of a veteran’s grave inside the Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church mausoleum Memorial Day.

Nearly two-dozen veterans and volunteers carefully placed small American flags at the graves of some 650 veterans buried in seven Donaldsonville cemeteries Memorial Day.

The tradition began on Veterans Day and Monday, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3766, American Legion Post 98 and Buffalo Soldiers made sure no stone was left unmarked.

“I think we got all of them,” Nick Porto said. “They had a crew going down those aisles. Some of headstones have been here so long, that you can hardly read them. The lettering is in bad shape. There are a lot of veterans.”

Some 150 flags were placed in Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church cemetery in November. Veterans returned Memorial Day to catch those overlooked and also placed flags at cemeteries at St. Francis of Assisi, Mt. Zion. Bikur Shilom, Mt. Triumph. Mt. Olive and the Protestant Cemetery.

Clarence Brimmer said the veterans broke up into to teams to visit each graveyard.

“There is nothing binding us to do this,” Brimmer said. “This is something that we just wanted to do. We were trying to think of something to do to show our veterans that we appreciated them.”

Brimmer said the flag is symbolic of what the veterans were fighting for.

“When they were fighting for our country, they were defending our flag,” Brimmer said. “That is what they did and this is showing our appreciation by placing a flag to show that we  didn’t forget them.”

Nolan Leblanc Sr. placed a flag on his father’s grave.

“It is an honor,” LeBlanc said. “He served his country. When I place that flag – I served in the service and I know what he went through. It is something special.”

LeBlanc said his father never talked about service as most other veterans do not. 

“It shows respect,” LeBlanc said. “They served our country. Not everybody served their country.”

Jimmy Haynes lost his brother in World War II. 

“It shows that you care about them,” Haynes said. “So many get no recognition at all.”

After placing of the flags the group returned to Louisiana Square for a Memorial Day Ceremony.

Mayor Leroy Sullivan was the guest speaker.

“We memorialize those that have come before us and paved the freedom that we have,” Sullivan said. “I want to remember those and say thank you to each and every one of you that have fought for that freedom.”

Sullivan, whose father was a veteran, said when he got sick, his father wanted to go the Veterans Hospital. 

“That was his heart,” Sullivan said. Everything in him was about being an American.

Being apart of something that he cared about so much. I don’t take that for granted.”

Army Staff Sgt. Mark Maddry of St. Amant, currently on leave from serving in Iraq, attended the ceremony.

“These men make America what it is and I thank them,” Maddry said. 

Jimmy Haynes places a flag on a tombstone.