Brig. Gen. K.K. Chinn spoke at the dedication of Veterans Park here on Saturday afternoon.

"This entire day has been outstanding, an unforgettable tribute to veterans," he said. "We will come to this park year after year to remember the brave veterans who have protected our freedom."


Brig. Gen. K.K. Chinn spoke at the dedication of Veterans Park here on Saturday afternoon.
"This entire day has been outstanding, an unforgettable tribute to veterans," he said. "We will come to this park year after year to remember the brave veterans who have protected our freedom."
Chinn  said there are currently 304,900 veterans living in Louisiana.
He thanked the veterans, men and women currently serving in the military, and their families, for their sacrifices.
Chinn read from a Life magazine article describing the Louisiana Maneuvers held in the area in 1941.
He spoke of the long tradition of training soldiers for war at Camp Polk, then at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk.
Chinn asked veterans of past conflicts and wars to stand and be recognized.
"You have given your utmost in times of peace and in times that try men's souls," said Chinn. "This monument we dedicate today belongs to you. Today you create a bridge of history."
Mayor Ron Roberts and Sen. John Smith, D-Leesville, began working together five years ago to make the park a reality.
Smith said after hearing Roberts' vision of the park, he was determined to find the funding.
The dedication was one of the events in a two-day celebration, the in augural Southwest Louisiana All Veterans Reunion.
Retired Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore opened the festivities early Saturday morning at the War Memorial Civic Center.
A parade traveled from the historic civic center, the site of the first USO, to Washington Street, which was blocked off for festival activities.
The Victory Belles from the World War II Museum in New Orleans, BeeBop Girls from Sulphur High School, Beauregard's Courtesy, and Top Flight, an Air Force Band, and the NCO Academy of Fort Polk provided entertainment.
The Oath of Enlistment for future service men and women, a fly-over with the Missing Man Formation, and a fireworks display rounded out the Saturday schedule.
Visitors enjoyed a variety of refreshments and displays by vendors.
The War Room Museum on Mahlon Street was open on Saturday for veterans and visitors.
The RealArt DeRidder Gallery held an exhibition of patriotic artwork, the "Colors of Our Lives," and a reception to meet the artists.
On Sunday a pancake breakfast for veterans was conducted at 8:30 a.m. at Veteran's Park, followed by a memorial service led by a military chaplain at 9:30 a.m.
The Vietnam Veterans of America were set to perform a Farewell to Arms at 10 a.m., before the festivities closed.