Acadiana Is A Special Place
When I see stories like this one, it reminds me that Acadiana is a very special place.
I first noticed how others loved coming to Acadiana when I was in the Army. I was stationed at Fort Polk, so almost every weekend I was able to come "home", and I would carry a few of my Army buddies with me. Having been stationed in other states, and overseas, I know the value of a home-cooked meal, even if it isn't from my own home!
To speak to these Army buddies today, they still thank me for introducing them to South Louisiana. They still keep in touch with friends they made while in Acadiana, and visit from time-to-time. Our "specialness", if I'm allowed to make up a word, isn't unheard of in other parts of the world. Every region has it own "specialness", but ours is a bit more unique: the music, the food, the joie de vivre, the history, the landscape; combine all of that with our heritage of sticking together (after all, our ancestors did have to make a new life for themselves), and it does make for a mighty tasty gumbo!
With that being said, I have a friend who is in the Army, stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Captain Jose' Torres is originally from Connecticut, but, during the course of his Army career, spent 3 years stationed here, in Lafayette. I met Captain Torres during his second year in Acadiana, and we became friends, working together on different projects in the community.
During one trip together to Fort Polk (he had business to tend to, I wanted to take a road trip!), he remarked "You know, sir (HE calls ME sir! Ha!!), Melissa (his wife) and I are talking about where we want to live when we get out of the Army, and Louisiana is at the top of the list". I was a little surprised to hear that (I was in the Army, and there was NO PLACE I wanted to be when I got out except HOME). I asked him why he would come back here, and he said that the people here made his heart feel like it was home.
When the flood of 2016 hit in August, and the extent of the damage started to be reported, Captain Torres called me and asked me if we were okay and if we had made it through the flood alright. Then he asked if I had room on the floor for him to sleep. I told him that my home was always open, and asked if everything was okay with him. He replied "No, everything is not okay. People in Louisiana are hurting, and I want to help."
He is taking a week's worth of leave (vacation) from the Army leaving his home and his family and is coming here, to help the people who make his heart feel at home.
Cynthia Ozick once said "When something does not insist on being noticed, when we aren’t grabbed by the collar or struck on the skull by a presence or an event, we take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."
Sometimes it takes a story like this to make us look around and realize how great this place really is.