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Veterans Memorial dedication honors military at Camp Joy in Haughton

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Kate Davis, who developed the Veterans Memorial at Camp Joy on Lake Bistineau, speaks during the dedication ceremony held Friday, May 18. (Jennyne Pinter/Press-Tribune)
Jennyne Pinter, jpinter@bossierpress.com

The Dedication of a Veterans Memorial at Camp Joy on Lake Bistineau in Haughton was held Friday, May 18. 

The owner of Camp Joy, Kate Davis, developed and drove the creation of the memorial. Originally from India, Davis wanted to celebrate the United States and her own deep appreciation for the military, both veterans and active duty.

“This is the home which gave me liberty and all of the freedom to live my American dream,” Davis said in thanking her guests.  “This freedom that we have today is earned.  It is fought for.  I am so humbled by all of this.”

Norman Craig, Bossier Parish Police Juror for Dist. 4 and Marine Corps veteran, was guest speaker for the dedication. 

Craig joined the Marine Corp in 1957 in Kentucky and obtained rank as Corporal.  After completing his education with Master’s Degree, he taught school for several years and moved to Louisiana with his wife, Suzanne. He spent several years in insurance and then opened Craig’s Power Sports in Haughton. When he sold the business in 2007, Craig went to work for the Bossier Sheriff’s Office and became an integral part of the the Bossier Sheriff’s Young Marines program. 

Craig took the podium and honored the bravery of the veterans, remarking that their legacy is what compelled him to accept the invitation to speak.

Retired Marine Norman Craig was guest speaker for the Veterans Memorial dedication at Camp Joy on Lake Bistineau Friday, May 18. (Jennyne Pinter/Press-Tribune)

Craig shared a conversation he had with Mrs. Davis, in which he had asked her what it was that prompted her to build this memorial.  

“And she started to tear up,” he recalled.  “And as she did her voice quivered and she said, ‘I love this country. This country has been good to me and to my family and I love it. I just wanted to do something, I wanted to give something back.’” 

Craig continued, “Mrs. Davis, you did do something and it was really amazing and thank you so much for that. As the military would say, ‘You answered the call.’”

The memorial is a raised circular stone platform upon which stands a larger-than-life soldier. There are five stones set around the front perimeter of the stage’s landing, representing the five branches of the military with their individual service seals. Behind the soldier are seven flags raised in honor of the five armed forces, POWs, and the American flag.

The Parkway High School Band played a medley of the official songs for each military branch during the ceremony. Military members, both former and current, stood and saluted to be recognized as their own branch’s song played. 

Meredith Johnson sings the National Anthem while BSO Lt. Bill Davis salutes in the background at the dedication for the Veterans Memorial at Camp Joy on Lake Bistineau Friday, May 18. (Jennyne Pinter/Press-Tribune)

Congressman Mike Johnson, LA-4, wrote a letter to be read by Bill Davis, Navy veteran and event emcee.

“Our veterans have made countless sacrifices in service to this nation, often putting their lives on hold and running directly into harm’s way to defend the freedoms we as Americans hold so dear,” the letter read, “From the halls of congress, I extend my deepest gratitude to our military members for their tremendous sacrifice made in service to this great nation.”

Maj. Carroll Michaud, USAF Ret., was on hand to deliver the invocation and recognized the Vietnam War veterans in attendance, saying, “We ask your blessing upon all the visitors in future days come to this memorial. Help them to meditate and reflect upon the courageous military men and women who fought and especially upon those who sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War.”

Maj. Michaud returned once more to close the ceremony with a benediction.

“Let us always remember to honor, respect and to be forever grateful to those who fought and sacrificed so much to assure our American way of life.”