The Southwest Louisiana All Veterans’ Reunion and Festival was held May 18 on North Washington Street in downtown DeRidder, showing appreciation and support to the men and women of the armed forces who have sacrificed in defense of the United States.

The Southwest Louisiana All Veterans’ Reunion and Festival was held May 18 on North Washington Street in downtown DeRidder, showing appreciation and support to the men and women of the armed forces who have sacrificed in defense of the United States.
Opening festivities began at 3 p.m. Entertainment included performances by The Victory Belles from the National World War II and D-Day Museum in New Orleans and Connie Garrett, a Tina Turner tribute artist. There was also an evening fireworks display.
Residents of DeRidder and surrounding areas joined the celebration to show their appreciation with demonstrations and gestures of gratitude to those who have served and those working at festival booths. Volunteers wrote thank you cards to veterans and Soldiers.
One card from Rebecca Richards read,  “Dear Hero, I’ve often wondered how to show my sincere gratitude and appreciation for one that has sacrificed so much, one that has given so much so I can be free. Thank you for your service and all you have given so I, my children and future generations will be free. May God bless you and keep you always. With love and prayer.”
The festival ended May 19 with a veteran breakfast held at the War Memorial Civic Center in DeRidder for veterans only.  The master of ceremonies, councilman Joseph Siciliano, introduced the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk Commander Brig. Gen. William B. Hickman as guest speaker. Veterans from every branch of service turned out for the breakfast.
Hickman began his remarks with a quote from George Orwell: “‘Last night America slept soundly under a blanket of security, because ruck man stood ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us.’ I would say last night America slept well because eAmerica’s finest men and women stood ready to defend our nation,” Hickman said.
“When talking to soldiers today, they tell me it’s about the person to the left and to the right, it’s about their fellow soldiers to the front and to the rear, it’s about professionalism, sacrifice and trust," he said. "It’s about not letting fellow servicemen down, and teamwork as we go forward.”
Hickman reminisced on the generations that came before him and those currently serving in today’s armed forces.
“Soldiers from past conflicts went ashore with one simple notion –– that people of all nations have a right to live in a world free of tyranny," he said. "They fought with one simple conviction: That some principles of life are worth dying for, so they grabbed their kits and kissed their loved ones goodbye, went forward and served. Despite what has changed in our country over the past 237 years, these convictions remain the same."
The 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade’s Chap. (Capt.) Randy Perry gave the devotional. Then the Farewell to Arms by Vietnam Veterans of America concluded the veterans breakfast.