Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso, Jr. has long respected and admired the service and sacrifice of our country’s veterans. After he was elected Parish President, he committed to doing more to honor local veterans. Through his leadership, the support of the Iberville Parish Council, and a generous donation of $300,000 by The Dow Chemical Co., the parish constructed one of the most beautiful veterans memorials in all of the South.
The $1.5 million Iberville Veteran’s Memorial “is Iberville’s way of saying thanks to our veterans and is a fitting tribute to those who have served our great nation,” said Ourso. It is a beacon of honor and sacrifice for Iberville Parish Veterans.
The memorial’s hard concrete foundation and walls reflect both the stark reality and harshness of war, and the strength of our military. The four conflict markers of the memorial are reminders of the tremendous human costs of World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. Those markers are set within a water element, making them untouchable and unchangeable.
At this point the memorial is broken, where the conflict markers transcend from the past to the present. Another lone marker represents all current and future conflicts. It is symbolically on the other side of the memorial wall and out of the water element to remind us that we can change both our present and future to avoid the horrors of future wars.
The divider above the water element represents the role of the great Mississippi River and Bayou Plaquemine, which both served as critical portals to south Louisiana in much of the 1800s and 1900s. The concept for the divider is the Plaquemine Lock, which played a tremendous role in the parish’s growth and economy from the late 1800s until the 1960s.
Another wall of the monument includes letters from service personnel to loved ones back home while they were thousands of miles away, often in very dangerous combat and service roles. These letters reflect the trying difficulties, sadness and concern for loved ones that our veterans experienced while serving and defending our country.
Perhaps one of the most stunning aspects of the memorial is the use of translucent block and markers for the various branches of the military. The markers are underlit, so that they slowly light up as dusk turns to darkness. With the translucent block sections, they provide a complete transformation from night to day, signifying a beacon of hope for the future given to all Americans through the selfless service of our veterans.
Bronze sculptures of people reflecting at the memorial were added, and depict a mother and child, an old veteran and others remembering our service men and women.
The inscription on the memorial, etched in bronze, reads simply, “In honor of those whose strength and courage we owe the freedom of this nation.”
The Iberville Veterans Memorial is now graced by five beautiful bronze sculptures unveiled during the Salute to Iberville Veterans ceremony on November 11, 2010. The sculptures, created by a Vietnam veteran, are designed to convey the depth of feeling of veterans and loved ones pausing to remember and pay tribute at the memorial. They reflect the great sacrifices made by veterans – sacrifices that allow the many freedoms that Americans take for granted. Shown are the statues and the inspiration and meaning behind each.
The young veteran is a symbol of the youth that has taken our country upon their backs, as generations before them have done.
The World War II era-veteran sculpture represents the thousands of veterans lost and injured in early wars.
The young woman and her child reaching into the water represents not only the sacrifices of families, but also the hope that future generations will not know the horrors of war. Shown in the background is the veteran reflecting on the price paid – both physically and emotionally – for service to our country.
The final sculpture represents the true spirit of America and its veterans. Soaring above the memorial – the bald eagle is the symbol of power, grace and freedom. It forever will guard this memorial for our veterans and remind future generations of America’s spirit of freedom.
Awards & Recognition
The Iberville Veterans Memorial won a prestigious Honor Award in competition with 58 other design projects in the Louisiana chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Design Competition in 2008.
Press Release: Memorial Dedication Plans Unveiled, October 16, 2008
The award-winning Veteran’s Memorial was dedicated in grand style on Veterans Day, November 11, 2008, with a parade and performances by the 40-piece Marine Corps Reserve Band, the 156th Army Band, military color guards, an F-15 Air Force fly-over, a military equipment display and a moving ceremony.
Each Veterans Day since 2008, Iberville Parish has continued the tradition of honoring veterans at the site through the Iberville’s Salute to Veterans event. The extensive activities, entertainment and a ceremony draw a crowd of over 1,000 people annually and is one of the most well attended Veterans Day ceremonies in Louisiana.
- Sitting Area