The body doesn’t move like it used to for local veteran Linton Doucet.
Now, in his late-80s, he’s mostly confined to an electronic wheelchair.
But the mind?
That’s just as sharp as it’s ever been — filled with a wealth of knowledge about local veterans and the reasons why we enjoy the freedoms we have today.
Doucet is a three-term Korean War veteran who served in the United States Navy.
Upon returning home, Doucet has worked tirelessly to honor local veterans, including serving as the President of the Veteran’s Memorial Park in southern Lafourche — a gorgeous public park that features a massive wall engraved with the names of every local who has served, both young and old.
Doucet said it’s his passion, and it has been for many years.
“Freedom is not free,” Doucet said. “There are men and women who worked and fought so we can have the things we have today. There were many sacrifices that had to be made.”
Doucet knows about those sacrifices all too well.
At the Veteran’s Memorial Park is a Trail of Tears, which honors some of the local servicemen who have been lost in battle over the years.
Doucet is like a walking encyclopedia. Through years of studying, research and getting to know friends and family members of those fallen, he can tell the story of everyone in the park with conviction.
“Most of the men who got killed were 18 and 19 years old,” Doucet said. “They’re in heaven now. They’re gone too soon.”
Doucet, too, knows about the struggles of battle.
In Korea, he said he saw things that no man should see. He has stories that give goosebumps — tales of some of the men he fought side by side with losing their lives.
Doucet said he was the last person to see one of his friends alive. He said he often laid his head down at night and wondered if he would ever be able to return home to friends and family again.
“When you’re seeing the devastation around you, you never know what might happen,” Doucet said. “You never know if you might be next.”
So that’s where the passion to give back starting burning and arguably his biggest prize is the Veteran’s Memorial Park.
Through the park is the phrase “Freedom is not Free” — a moniker Doucet often states to remind locals that all of our liberties were earned through the hard work of others in battle.
The park is gorgeous, featuring fountains, statues, plaques and other military memorabilia. The wall is massive and has thousands of local names.
The park also has a central office where board meetings are held and public events are booked.
This past week marked the Doucet Family Reunion — a time when Linton was able to sit back with his closest loved ones and relax.
While posing for a photo, he looked around, cracked a smile, then said, “What a day.”
It was a day earned, in part, because of the sacrifices of he and others to keep us safe in earlier times of conflict and battle.