Recounting NOLA–August 29, 2008 Memorial Ceremony for the Animals

The Katrina memorial service was held in the chambers of the NOLA City Council at City Hall. City Hall is near the SuperDome and I got lost for a few minutes in a maze of one-way streets. The National Guard was already present near the Superdome, which is NOT going to be open this time. The atmosphere in the city was starting to feel a bit agitated. I found a place to park on the street and headed to City Hall. My bag was searched and I had to pass through a metal detector on the way in. I walked through the building to get to the chambers of the City Council, where the memorial would be held. The credit union there had a long line going out the door—people withdrawing cash. The ceremony was well attended, with probably 200 people or more. Two of the city council women were in attendance, Council President and Councilmember-at-Large Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson and District “B” Councilmember Stacy Head. I later saw them standing with the other council members behind the governor and the mayor on the TV news. Although some people apparently cancelled, people from coast to coast attended this event. Wendy Diamond and her dog Lucky were sitting in front of us. I introduced myself to Wendy and told her that I would give her a book at the luncheon. I met and sat near Mike of the Humane Society of Louisiana (IT and photographer) and Diane of Petcetera (who is also a judge).

After a while, Diane had to leave to secure the courthouse. Before going, she offered me a place to stay at her house on high ground, where she is well prepared for the hurricane. Her place stayed dry for Katrina but had some roof damage. She is essential personnel and has to stay in New Orleans unless Gustav becomes a category 5, in which case she would be released to evacuate.

The memorial ceremony was wonderful. It included words from Jeff Dorson, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Louisiana, Joe DuBois, Past President of the Coalition of Louisiana Animal Advocates, Garo Alexanian, Founder of Companion Animal Network TV and North Shore Animal League America, Ed Kostro, author of “Through Katrina’s Eyes: Poems from an Animal Rescuer’s Soul, Councilwoman Clarkson, and Councilwoman Head. The ceremony ended with the unveiling of the new statue/monument created by Baton Rouge artist Richard Chashoudian in memory of the animals that perished after Katrina. It is a beautiful statue and I will add a photo of it later.

A group of people from Seattle attended the ceremony. They knew my friend Connie from Lamar-Dixon and wanted to buy books from me there because they weren’t planning to attend the luncheon. I hadn’t brought books into the City Hall because I was planning to sell them at the luncheon where tables would be set up. They waited while I went out to the car to get books and they bought a book for Connie from me, plus four other books, which I signed for them. I then realized that it was almost noon and I’d better get moving to head over to the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel for the luncheon… 

Next: The Luncheon   


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