By Bonnie Culverhouse
Jerry and Cindy Madden paid a huge price for their country’s freedom when their son Joshua paid the ultimate price in Iraq in 2006.
Josh Madden died before he became a veteran, but that didn’t keep his parents from wanting to honor vets from the local community with a day of their own.
“We have something special planned, and I am really anxious for you guys to know about it,” Cindy Madden told members of the Minden City Council during a workshop last week.
Cindy said about 2 years ago her husband had the idea of placing a sign on I-20 to honor Vietnam Veterans. Rep. Wayne McMahen presented it to the state Legislature where it received approval.
“We raised $1,100, but that was enough to make the sign,” she said. It is currently in the manufacturing stage.
The sign is scheduled to be finished by March 29 – Vietnam Veterans’ 50th anniversary.
Cindy is regent (president) of Dorcheat-Bistineau Daughters of the American Revolution.
“We (DAR) are partnering with the American Legion Wiley-Pevy Post #74 in Minden, and with Hunter-Rickerson VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Post 2885 and Auxiliary,” she said. “We want to have a special day, and let it be the day we will dedicate the sign.”
Although that date is not confirmed yet, the Maddens say they would like officials and the community to meet at the sign that day around exit 40 on the eastbound side of the interstate.
“We want to make sure we do something special,” Cindy said, as she asked Mayor Nick Cox to draft a proclamation. “For the veterans that can’t come to the celebration, our plan is to go to the nursing homes in the area and give them pins, certificates and a large-print Bible.”
Cindy said it is still in the planning stages, but when that future date is determined, the idea is to dedicate the sign at 10 a.m.
“Then come back to Minden and have lunch for the servicemen,” she said. The Maddens’ thoughts are to gather for the meal.
Former state Sen. Ryan Gatti and Lt. Governor Billy Nungessor say they are willing to provide food for the first celebration.
“At noon, we want to have a program, where we will ring a bell and call out the names of the 13 KIA (killed in action) from Webster Parish,” she said. “There is one MIA (missing in action). He was never recovered. We do not have a POW (prisoner of war) from Webster Parish.”
One reason this event could grow is because the intention is to call it Armed Forces Day locally and invite all veterans.
“We would salute all veterans, but special guests for this first one would be Vietnam veterans,” Cindy said. “That is something special for them.”
She went on to say Webster Parish is very patriotic and with the help of the council, the DAR will be able to spread the word.
“Maybe if this goes well, we can do it every year,” she said. “Next year, we might highlight Korea. It could really grow into something big that honors our veterans.”
The specific date and location will be released at a later date.
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