A while back I attended a party at a friend's home in Belle Chasse. While trying to find his house, I stumbled across what looks to be the partially finished site of a "Louisiana Medal of Honor Park" tucked away at the end of Barriere Road. You'd really have to know where to look to find it or just stumble on it through random luck like me. The work that does exist shows signs of this park/museum being quite an undertaking. Unfortunately, it was all fenced up and locked tight behind a gate without much information. Can you shed any light on this project?
What you have found is a grand idea that began in 1994 as a plan to beautify one of the main roads to the Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve base in Belle Chasse. Instead, it grew into a 31-acre park that honors all Medal of Honor recipients.
One of the founding members of the Louisiana Medal of Honor Park and Museum was Murray Louis Naquin, who lived in Belle Chasse for 40 years before he died in August 2006. Naquin was park coordinator for 11 years and worked with the park committee, members of the military, businessmen and local residents to create awareness for the project and raise the necessary funds.
When Naquin died, Plaquemines Parish President Benny Rouselle described him as 'a very dedicated public servant, very dedicated to the Medal of Honor Project." He further said, 'For Plaquemines Parish, if it's ever completed, the park will be quite an attraction. And without [Naquin], we wouldn't have what we have now, which is a really good start."
The site for the park was dedicated on Oct. 15, 1999. On that day, a lease was signed to transfer 31 acres from the Plaquemines Parish government to a nonprofit group called Friends of the Louisiana Medal of Honor Park and Museum. Rouselle signed the land transfer, and Naquin accepted the official transfer of the land for the park and museum.
Maj. Gen. James Livingston, himself a Medal of Honor recipient, was at the dedication and thanked the officials of Plaquemines Parish for their commitment and hard work for the project, which he said would bring further honor to the thousands who have given unselfishly of themselves for their country.
The foundation was laid for the $5 million project in 2001. The park committee, led by Naquin, enlisted the aid of the Navy Seabees to speed up construction. After countless hours of work by these men, the flag was raised over the park for the first time on Sept. 20, 2004.
When it is completed, a monument in the park will feature the name of each Medal of Honor recipient, organized by state, on one of five black granite-paneled star points. The American flag will fly in the middle of the star, and flags representing each branch of the armed forces will encircle it. The design resembles the star found on the Medal of Honor itself. A walkway leading to the center courtyard will be paved with engraved memorial bricks, some of which were in place by April 2006.
Plans for the park also include a museum, a small theater, an open-air chapel, a pond surrounded by a walking path, and smaller monuments dedicated to each branch of the military.
The most pressing task is for the park committee to find $500,000 for the black granite that will be affixed to the side of the five points of the star. On these granite panels will be engraved the names of the 3,460 Medal of Honor recipients in the United States.
For more information visit www.lmohpark.com or call 394-2892.