A recent Academy Award winner, a celebrity chef, and well-known television and political figures joined Monday in special State Capitol ceremonies observing Louisiana’s 200th birthday as a state.
The ceremonies, presided over by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, included the unveiling of a Forever Stamp by the U.S. Postal Service depicting a Louisiana Atchafalya Swamp scene by photographer C.C. Lockwood. The commemorative stamp celebrating the state’s bicentennial went on sale Monday.
“The U.S. Congress was somewhat reluctant to embrace its 18th state,” Dardenne told a packed joint session of the Louisiana Legislature. “We were different ... It’s that difference that makes us special.”
Louisiana became a state April 30, 1812. Bicentennial events continue throughout the year.
Some well-known Louisiana natives shared their thoughts about the state in a more than hour-long ceremony punctuated with music. Zachary Richard sang what he said was “the oldest song in the considerable repertoire of Louisiana music” from the early days of Natchitoches.
The program ended with Deacon John belting out “America the Beautiful” and Irma Thomas and Jay Chevalier leading “You Are My Sunshine.”
“There’s so much soul here. We are not the boot. We are the soul of this country. We really are,” said actress Faith Ford, a native of Pineville.
Ford left the state 30 years ago at age 17 traveling to New York as a teen model. She became well-known in the television series of “Murphy Brown” and “Hope and Faith.”
“I’ve come back home to give back,” said Ford. “I’ll keep doing acting other places ... I love Louisiana.”
Ford said she and her husband screenwriter Campion Murphy enjoyed the New Orleans’ Jazz Fest last weekend.
Donna Douglas, of Zachary and who played as Elly May Clampett on the television show “The Beverly Hillbillies,” did her acclaimed whistle.
“Growing up here made me a good storyteller ... made me think differently,” said Academy Award winner Bill Joyce, who has Moonbot Studios in Shreveport. Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg won an Oscar for the animated “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.”
Joyce credited Louisiana people from the local to the state level with “being so supportive of my personal endeavor trying to bring animation to Louisiana ... This is a great place to do what I do.”
“We did it here with our local talent and we won an Academy Award,” said Joyce, who chose to raise his children in Louisiana.
National Democratic political consultant James Carville and Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme also made brief comments. Dardenne read remarks from political commentator Cokie Roberts, the daughter of former U.S. Rep. Lindy Boggs and the late U.S. Rep. Hale Boggs of New Orleans. Roberts wrote about the “multiculturalism that this celebrates.”
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