Photos by FREDDIE HERPIN, Photographer
Lincoln Savoie is developing a re-dedication plan that he says will honor all St. Landry Parish military veterans while enabling the Confederate monument to remain on Courthouse property in downtown Opelousas.
Savoie, a former Louisiana Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, also wants to be given an opportunity to present his proposal at the next St. Landry Parish Council meeting scheduled April 20.
“What I would like to do is find a way to keep the monument here (at the Courthouse). You would remove all the Confederate names off the panels of the monument and instead leave it here and rededicate it with a simple inscription that honors all parish veterans during periods of unrest,” Savoie added.
His plan Savoie said, will eradicate all inscriptions that refer to the Confederacy and the Civil War and leave basically a blank monument that would salute the military service of all parish residents.
Any dedication ceremony for the repurposed monument would be held on Veteran’s Day, according to Savoie.
Savoie who several years ago formed a St. Landry Parish Veterans Funeral Honor Guard which provides military funerals to parish veterans free of charge, introduced several members of the organization to the monument on Monday night.
Honor guard members Todd Abshire, Eva Noel and Claude Clifton inspected the monument along with Savoie.
Noel, Clifton and Abshire are all military veterans, said Savoie.
“I wanted to bring them here to the monument and show them what was written on it in 1920, explain what I have in mind and get their advice on what we could do,” Savoie said.
Savoie said he doesn’t want St. Landry to become another national news item where some monuments he feels are being removed indiscriminately.
“I do not want this parish to be one of those places where we are stooping to that point. There are more than 80,000 people in this parish and you have only two or so individuals that all of a sudden are complaining,” Savoie noted.
A possible vote on removing the monument is scheduled for an April 20 Council meeting.
On March 16 the Council passed a resolution to remove the monument, but gave parish president Jessie Bellard 30 days to develop a procedure and examine the costs for removing the monument which was donated to the parish by the Louisiana Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
At an Administrative Committee meeting last week, Bellard estimated that it would cost the parish at least $15,000 to move the monument.
Bellard could not be reached for comment on Wednesday morning.