OUR VIEW: Thank you to those who served

In Saipan and Somalia, Baghdad and Benghazi, on military bases in other far-flung parts of the globe as well as right here at home, men and women who walk among us have sacrificed life, limb, time, careers and even their own mental health to keep U.S. shores safe from enemies foreign and domestic. Sometimes the threats are not man-made but the product of weather. Even then there is ample proof of military personnel putting the needs of community ahead of their own.

Those who don the uniforms of the Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Coast Guard and Air Force agree to do their work for what amounts to minimal compensation. In so doing they give up many of the very rights that they help guarantee for all of us, from the ability to speak freely on topics of public concern to freedom from searches that to most of us would be unreasonable, the freedom to travel when or where they wish, even freedom of association in some cases, not to mention trial by a jury of peers.

The sacrifices are legion, whether made by veterans of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Iraq or Afghanistan.

What must be remembered is that if they wore the uniform, they gave of themselves.

Through legislation, commemoration and personal communication, we all have opportunities to recognize and repay in a variety of ways large and small the debt we owe to each of them. And there are never enough opportunities, in our opinion, to do so.

The Veterans’ Shelter on Grand Caillou Road, the Regional Military Museum on Barrow Street and the Veterans Memorial Park on La. Highway 311, as well as the grove of oaks at Jim Bowie Park that commemorates service members, are among the places that exist in our communities to make the promise of gratitude real. We support and encourage private donations large and small to organizations promoting the welfare of veterans, and see no better day to be doing so than today, Veterans Day, which has been set aside to honor all who wore the uniform.

A different kind of war

Another war rages in our communities, that which seeks to claim our young people’s hearts and minds for the streets rather than for the classroom or the job.

A spate of shootings has taken lives and hopes from our communities, and while we recognize that every child, block or bayou can’t be saved, we have a duty to do everything possible to save as many as we can.

That will require as many tools in the civic kit as possible, gathered from wherever they are available, and recognition that one approach cannot succeed.

Leaders from government, churches and other institutions – with the help of young people themselves – must come together and put aside their own interests for the common good.

Toward that end we call upon Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet and the Parish Council to establish a blue ribbon panel to consider ways to fund and implement programs that can turn the tide and stop the violence.

Many talented and dedicated people, each in their own way, are already trying to help. Their voices and abilities to assist must be fortified.

We suggest that such a panel include clergy, at least one council member, a representative from Nicholls State University, the Terrebonne Parish school system, specially-chosen liaisons to young people currently out on the street from each side of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, law enforcement and medicine. Their task would be to assemble a report within a specified period of time that will identify and suggest models and funding sources for programs with track records in other communities that teens and young adults will be willing to buy into, when possible.

The people in our communities have a history and reputation for developing solutions to many types of problems. It is our belief that our peoples’ innate ability to address difficult situations must be used to address this one.

If those efforts result in one life being saved, they will be worth developing. •