May 23, 1996 the Olympic Torch inched
eastward from Texas by way of Lake Charles,
Jennings, Crowley, Lafayette, and Opelousas
on its way to Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and
ultimately Atlanta where Mohammed Ali lit
the Olympic caldron with his torch. At
approximately 4:56 P.M., Ed's torch was lit
on Main Street in Opelousas, between the St.
Landry Catholic Church and the St. Landry
picture provided, please note the previous
runner had not had time to extinguished his
torch. The Olympic Relay torches do not
change hands, only the flame travels from
person to person. In 1996 there were 3,000
torch bearers in the United States alone.
Usually one torch bearer carries the torch
for approximately .62 miles and in a area as
close to their home town as possible. Main
Street in Opelousas was that place.
runner whose torch Ed was to light
experienced scheduling problems and, at the
last minute, Ed was asked to carry the
torch for both legs of the Torch Relay.
This involved carrying the torch to the
steps of the St. Landry Parish Courthouse
for the ceremony there. It was one of the
most uplifting experiences of my life.
during and after, the torch relay you are
not able to stop reflecting on all of the
people who made it possible for you to have
this honor...so the torch was carried with
dignity for all of them: Gratitude to my
God, my family, Evergreen, UL Lafayette,
Louisiana, the U.S.A. and the Olympic spirit
stayed on my mind.
The day ended
with a wonderful party at my home in
Carencro with family, faculty and friends -
and Evergreen and the Descant family was
represented by Martha Trump Kojis.
In the months
following the Torch Relay, I was able to
receive materials and information from the
157 Torch Bearers from Louisiana. The
collection had been planned in advance and
once completed (five boxes) it was donated
to the Louisiana Secretary of State and
placed in the archives. It reflects how the
flame moved from person to person in each
leg of the relay.
I was honored
on that day to have an outstanding high
school track performer in the state as my
escort runner. His dad was one of my first
students at UL and, as luck would have it
for me, he drew my name. Midway the first
leg, I turned and handed him the torch to
carry and he was speechless. This moment
and being with the thousands who lined the
streets to see the torch have
greatly enriched my life. My son Paul and I
stayed after the courthouse ceremony to
allow people to hold the torch and to take
pictures...this is when one is really
humbled in the eyes of God and man...the
blind girl, the young man in a wheelchair,
the people who traveled long distances just
to get a glimpse of the Olympic flame.