Legislators honor Memorial Day

Music, a flag ceremony, vintage uniforms and booming cannons were on the agenda Thursday when the Louisiana House of Representatives held a Memorial Day celebration shortly after convening.

House Clerk Butch Speer read dedications for two Louisiana soldiers killed on active duty this year: Sgt. Michael J. Guillory, of Pearl River, and Chief Warrant Officer Bryan James Henderson, of Winnsboro. Guillory was killed Dec. 14 during combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Henderson was killed March 11 during combat operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The ceremony in the Louisiana House chamber ended with the posting of the colors by the 1st Battalion, 141st Artillery Battalion, called the Washington Artillery, and the Color Guard of the Louisiana Army National Guard, wearing uniforms in the style of the 1800s.

Legislators then moved to the front steps of the Capitol, and called out the names of the two soldiers in what the military described as the “final roll call.”

A 75 mm Howitzer Salute Battery of the LSU ROTC then fired its cannon 21 times in honor of all United States’ fallen service members from the sunken garden in front of Huey Long’s grave and statue.

Afterward, two members of the Marine Corps band of New Orleans played taps, one trumpet echoing the other.

Louisiana State Police had sent out warnings earlier in the week advising residents of the cannon fire in downtown Baton Rouge. “Residents, employees and visitors to the Louisiana State Capitol complex should expect to hear numerous loud booms,” State Police said.

State Rep. Nick Lorusso, R-New Orleans, and several other representatives who also are military veterans, led the remembrance of service members who were lost in the line of duty.

Later Thursday, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed legislation, sponsored by Lorusso, that helps returning service members, veterans and their spouses who have relocated to return to Louisiana, by extending the time periods for renewing their state or professional licenses.

House Bill 312, generally, will extend for service members, veterans and their spouses the requirements to pay license fees, reinstatement fees and continuing education, from 90 days after discharge from active duty to 180 days.

“We should do everything in our power to provide them with the opportunity to succeed,” Jindal said Thursday in a prepared statement. “This legislation will go a long way toward helping some of our best and brightest continue on with their lives by returning home and entering the workforce.”

The House met for a short time, then adjourned until Tuesday at 1 p.m.