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Christmas tree salutes military veterans

The Courier - 12/24/2019

Dec. 24--Not all Christmas trees have presents under them.

Combat boots now lay beneath the branches of a Christmas tree at the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office to honor U.S. military veterans.

The five pairs of boots were laid beneath a patriotic tree adorned in red, white and blue to salute the men and women who served in the armed forces, organizers said. Each pair comes from someone affiliated with the Sheriff's Office.

Those who wore the boots -- Sheriff Jerry Larpenter, Sheriff-elect Tim Soignet, Chief Deputy Terry Daigre, Lt. Troy Boquet and Deputy Andrew Watzek -- joined together Monday for a dedication ceremony and a prayer.

The sheriff, who retires July 1, served in the Air Force, Soignet is a retired Marine, Daigre is an Army veteran, Boquet served in the Navy and Watzek served in the Coast Guard.

Larpenter said Christmas was a difficult time for him when he was in the Air Force because he was away from his family.

"I didn't spend one Christmas with my family in four years in the military," Larpenter said. "The Veterans Tree is a recognition that not only kids in America but all people in America have the right to celebrate Christmas, and the good Lord, and even Santa Claus, because it is protected by our military men and women. The veterans that have fought for and served this country have protected that right. Most of the veterans whose boots are under this tree were not home with their families for Christmas while they served."

There are 55 veterans who currently work in the Sheriff's Office, Larpenter said.

"Even if they are working a 12-hour day on Christmas they now get to see their families and they will be home at some point to celebrate Christmas with their families," the sheriff said. "It's an honor to have hired and worked with veterans. Those who served in the military have made great police officers in my opinion. We wish a Merry Christmas to them and to all of the people we serve in Terrebonne Parish."

Soignet said it is important to remember those serving our country during the holidays.

"I would like to thank all of our service members for their contribution to our country by the sacrifices they make being away from their families during the holidays," Soignet said. "This is the true spirit of service to our great nation."

--Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 448-7639 or at dan.copp@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanVCopp.

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(c)2019 The Houma Courier, La.

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