How can you not be inspired by a man like Lane Carson?
I spent some time with Lane last week as we prepared for our special section in today’s paper, honoring military veterans for their service to our country.
Lane has lived on the North Shore for over 30 years, but has had a connection to the military in various ways throughout his life.
From the time he grew up in a family where his father served in the Navy, Lane was in the ROTC at LSU when he went to college, then joined the Army in 1970 to serve in Vietnam, before coming home sooner than expected from a shell exploding close by him. He recovered from the injuries and has been a disabled vet his entire life, although you would certainly never know it from seeing him or talking to him. It’s not something he highlights in any way, but it is something that motivates him to work for the good of veterans across our country, and especially in our state.
Lane became a state representative in Louisiana, campaigning on veterans’ rights, and he maintained his work to help veterans throughout his professional life as a lawyer, all the way until 2008 when Gov. Bobby Jindal asked him to head the Louisiana Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Simply being asked to take on that job says a lot about Lane’s reputation statewide, something that was seen earlier in his life when he was asked to serve in a state position by Gov. Dave Treen.
For the five years Lane served for Jindal’s staff, he was a part of major changes, improvements and benefits for the veterans of our state. Louisiana now offers a Veterans Honor Medal they have given out to over 20,000 veterans, there are Veterans Help Centers in every parish throughout Louisiana to ensure vets know what their benefits are, there is a monetary program for financial hardships affecting spouses or family members of vets who are currently deployed, there are five retirement homes for vets in our state, and perhaps one of the most impressive accomplishments by Lane is that St. Tammany Parish will soon be home to one of the three Veterans Cemeteries in the state.
It’s easy to see Lane Carson has a true love for our veterans. He is now 66 years of age and retired from his law practice, but he isn’t slowing down one bit when it comes to helping veterans. For that matter, the passion I see in the man when you begin talking about veterans is something that inspires him to work harder than ever.
When I interviewed him for the feature story in today’s paper, it was so clear that he won’t rest if there is one veteran who isn’t being helped in every way he or she should, and that is something our paper will always fully support.
With Veterans Day set on Monday, Nov. 11, I hope you will take time to thank a veteran for the service they gave to us. I know Lane Carson is trying to do it single-handedly, but it’s something each and every one of us needs to do all year long.
It’s your birthday! It’s your birthday!
OK, so it was really MY birthday. The little phrase about “It’s your birthday!” is something from a song that my daughters go around singing now and then.
But on Sunday, it really was my birthday as I turned the interesting age of 59.
Yup, that’s right—one of those “big ones” is coming up in 12 months and lately my wife has given me a directive to “quit talking about it since you aren’t 60 yet.”
To me, I began to see the “60” coming down the road from several years back. I guess that once you turn 55, you realize you are past the middle mark of the 50s and 60 simply seems to be very close.
I have marveled at the way we react to age. When we’re 18, we think 30 is “so old!” But when we get to be 30, we know it’s not old at all. And as we age, we look 20 years or more ahead and think, “oh yea, that’s REALLY old!”
Then when we get there, we change our mind because we really do feel surprisingly young. Unfortunately, one look in the mirror reminds us that we are, in fact, aging like everyone else and unable to do a dang thing about it.
So my approach has been to do my best to age gracefully—at least the best I can—and be thankful I’m still here with so many wonderful things in my life. I’m fortunate to be in very good health, which I attribute largely to exercising pretty regularly most of my life. I’ve never been a fanatic about trying to eat healthy, but I eat minimal sweets, don’t smoke, drink very moderately, and most of all, have always watched my weight like a hawk, and reacted properly to it when I saw 5 pounds show on the scale.
So even though I’m not allowed to really talk about 60, especially since I married a younger woman (two years), I know it’s coming in 12 months and it’s not anything that bothers me. I’m a blessed guy with a wonderful wife who has stuck it out with me through thick and thin for 38 years, I have four wonderful children and five grandchildren, and I’m working with this newspaper that I truly love being a part of.
I was amazed to get well over 100 birthday wishes on Facebook, and several of them thanked me for being a part of bringing this local paper back to the community. I feel blessed to be the guy who could help that happen, so I should be the one thanking them for supporting it.
So thank you.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org