Pelican Carried Olympic Torch in 1996 With Happiness & Humility

About Evergreen

Published August 13, 2008
On Thursday 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 Courthouse. 
In the 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.
However, the 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. 
Before, 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 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.   
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