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Memorial Day Valor Gallery opens at the East Baton Rouge Library

4 weeks 1 hour 41 minutes ago Thursday, May 23 2024 May 23, 2024 May 23, 2024 4:14 PM May 23, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The mayor's office hosted its first Memorial Day Valor Gallery at the East Baton Rouge Main Library on Goodwood Boulevard Thursday.

More than 65 military families submitted photos of their loved ones to be displayed on the walls of the library. 

Acting Chair of the Mayor's Advisory Council on Veterans Affairs, Elena Branzaru, says this is a way to keep their memories alive.

"This was a way for us to have a memorial for people, so that we can continue to have them alive in our memories and hearts," Branzaru said. 

Symbolic poppies were handed out at the ceremony to represent the memories of those who lost their life in conflict. 

Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome was there to honor those lost. 

"I am very thankful that we have paused today, as we approach Memorial Day, to remember and honor those individuals we lost in the military," said Broome.

The gallery will be open through Monday night. At the gallery, fallen heroes are represented, including First Sergeant Casey Hart, who passed away in Syria in 2021. Hart served in the U.S. Army for 24 years before being deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. On Mother's Day of that year, Hart died from sudden cardiac arrest in the field. 

“A gold star family is not ever a club that we signed up for or were never really excited to join," Hart's wife, Keri said. "But we recognize the importance of being a gold star family and keeping Casey's memory alive."

His 12-year-old daughter, Taylen, who was nine when he passed, says she's proud of her dad and everything he did when he served.

"He's such an icon, he's my idol,” Taylen said. “I'd love to be like him when I grow up, because he was just so dedicated and loved doing what he did."

The Hart family says Memorial Day is not just one day for them, but memories of processing the death of a loved one. 

“It's the memory of the general handing your then 9-year-old daughter a folded flag at her dad's funeral, and the brave face she put on knowing that's what her dad would have wanted," Keri said. "'Be brave' is what he told her.”

This is the first time the library has held this event, but the library says it'll continue to grow as years go by. 

"We were quite honored really, to be here for this very moving ceremony, and it's the first of many annual ceremonies to come," Mary Stein with the East Baton Rouge Library said.

On Memorial Day, the main library will also host the Baton Rouge Concert Band at 7 p.m. The concert is free to the public.

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