BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Veterans Voices is a half-hour November special airing on BRProud telling stories honoring veterans.
Veterans Day falls on Saturday, Nov. 11 this year. The federal holiday honors military veterans across the United States.
Stories in the special include the Library of Congress’s visit to LSU, the importance of documenting veteran stories, a Southern University alumnus getting a Medal of Honor and why historic Baton Rouge Navy ship USS KIDD will be leaving the local port soon.
Watch the full special as it airs on BRProud this Saturday.
Here are some stories honoring veterans in Baton Rouge.
Library of Congress visits LSU
The Library of Congress made a one-day stop inside the LSU Hill Memorial Library, displaying photos, letters, diaries, artwork and oral histories of veterans from World War I to the present day.
Monica Mohindra with the Library of Congress said the items are part of more than 100,000 veteran stories. Jennifer Cramer, director of T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History, said the pop-up came together through a classroom project she is conducting which will take part in the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project.
“Many students in the Honors College are each going to interview a Louisiana veteran who served during Vietnam,” said Cramer. “The interviews are going to be housed both here locally in Louisiana and also nationally at the Library of Congress.”
Mohindra said the project helps share the stories of veterans, allowing those who serve to have a voice. She said events like these encourage local veterans to share their stories nationwide.
“They can see the importance of their story and the long trajectory it will have into future history,” said Mohindra.
LSU students work on veterans history project
Student Grayson Phillips interviewed Baton Rouge Army veteran John Milazzo for a podcast.
“If your country calls you, you go. And that’s what happened in my case, my country called and I went,” said Milazzo.
Grayson and his classmates paired up with a Louisiana veteran who served in Vietnam.
“I think that it’s an under-documented aspect of our culture that I’d like to document more of and also to participate at the national level and to make sure that these stories about Louisiana veterans are spread,” said professor Jennifer Cramer.
Student Bryce Edwards said he is happy to be in the class, especially to show gratitude to those who served and may have not been recognized.
“For Vietnam veterans specifically, there was a period of time where they weren’t really welcomed home,” said Edwards. “So in this class, we definitely talked more about the opportunity to thank them for their service and telling them ‘welcome home.'”
As someone with veteran roots, Phillips said he is honored to showcase Louisiana veterans.
“Obviously, not all of it’s good, not all of it’s pleasing to hear, but whether or not it’s pleasing, that doesn’t matter,” said Phillips. “We should be well informed of how our country has acted in the past and how those results affect how we are today.”
Southern University alumnus gets Medal of Honor
Colonel Paris Davis was awarded the medal in March for his service during the Vietnam War.
After dragging a wounded soldier to the helicopter for medical evacuation, Davis, then an Army captain, went back into the battle to retrieve another. Davis retired as a colonel after serving more than 25 years in the Army.
In 2019 he was inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame. During the ceremony at Southern, the colonel shared his gratitude and had some words of advice for students.
“I’m still giggling inside,” said Davis. “A day that I will never forget. Everything was working for me. Even the president, you know, he was very kind, very complimentary, and very intrigued about the things that I had accomplished.”
Besides the Medal of Honor, Davis has a number of awards, including the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
USS KIDD Navy ship getting overhaul
Soon the USS KIDD, a historic Navy ship that sits on the riverfront in downtown Baton Rouge, will have a new temporary home.
USS KIDD Executive Director Parks Stephenson said the ship needs to get an overhaul every 10 years. The last time the USS KIDD had an overhaul was over 60 years ago. The ship will be moved to the coast for a little fine-tuning.
“Next year when the river rises high enough for the KIDD to be floating again,” said Stephenson. “We’re going to get her out of her cradle and we’re going to tow her down to New Orleans. And then the work may not take a year, but we’ll probably have to wait another year for the river cycle to repeat and rise enough so we can bring her back.”
He said major flooding and constant water level changes damaged the ship’s bottom.
“It’s the only museum ship in the world that is displayed both in and out of water,” said Stephenson. “She rises with the river. She falls with the river. As she falls, she’s bumping into that cradle.”
He said replacing the cradle could preserve the USS KIDD for another half century or longer.
“A lot of people think that she’s rusting in the river. No, she’s actually doing really good in fresh water in the freshwater Mississippi River. And I don’t know if that coating of mud that she gets in the river helps.”
Stephenson said the overhaul process could take anywhere from one to two years.