Forget bustling New York, glamorous California, picturesque Oregon, breezy Oklahoma, or mountainous Colorado. Being born and reared here, I am totally committed to Louisiana; although, some say we are inbred. Since inbred actually means innate or natural, we are inbred from the time we are babies with certain characteristics like manners, graciousness, calmness, and a fiery gumption in our spirit.
Recently, I proudly and quietly displayed each trait. First, I sat in an audience for over an hour. I then stood in line for a long while, too. “Why?” you ask. I received an invitation for a Louisiana Veterans’ Medal from Governor Bobby Jindal, and this was my experience.
I showed my manners by attending although I did not know anyone there. I knew it would be rude not to go. Graciousness came next when I finally received my medal, met the governor, shook his hand, and said, “Thank you, Governor Jindal.” Although he is young, and is not a veteran, he is our governor and you should have seen the prideful eyes of the hundreds in attendance! It was a humbling and gracious experience.
Sitting alone without my husband, my mother, or any other family member, I watched and listened to the activities around me. Yes, it could have been nerve-wracking for anyone, but I quietly and calmly absorbed my surroundings. Not only had the governor’s presence humbled me; but also the presence of the younger veterans, the veterans from Vietnam, the Korean Conflict, and ultimately from World War II which almost overwhelmed me. Some World War II men had to be in their 90s! I had to be calm, or I would have exploded.
Speaking of exploding, most Southerners have a fiery gumption inside of us. Our determined spirits are a result of many different factors. I do not know if it comes from our ancestors’ fight in the lost cause of a Confederacy. Or, were they beaten down as they drifted further into despair in the Depression? From where did their grit come? As I approached the governor, proud thoughts of my deceased family members flooded my mind.
Had I not gone, I would have let them down. Had I chose to ignore the occasion I would have erased their efforts in the Civil War. I would have spit on their determination to survive the gloomy Depression. Ultimately, I went for my ancestors who could not go. I went for my ancestors who never had a chance to meet a governor. I went for my ancestors who never received a thank you for their service! Sometimes a thank you goes a long ways.
I would not trade living in Louisiana for any other place. Yes, we have manners. Yes, we have grace. Yes, we are a fun-loving, family-oriented, calm people. Mostly though, we have a determined iron will that runs deep in our souls.
For without determination we have no dreams. Everyone has a dream! Bobby Jindal dreamed of being governor. What is your dream?
Sherry Perkins has been published in magazines and newspapers across the state of Louisiana. Her article, Liberty, won Honorable Mention in the BWG Members Only contest. Sherry loves speaking to people, organizing, being supportive of others, and working hard. She recently tossed her hat in the ring for president of BWG.