This winter I spent my first Christmas in Louisiana, having moved there with my family—proud Ohioans of almost two decades. Like any visitors attempting to understand a new place, we found ourselves near monuments and memorials, necks craned upwards and then quickly downwards as we scanned for plaques and historical explanations. Here are snapshots of what I've learned from a winter on the Bayou.
1. Supposedly, if you take a 360 degree spin around the nine panels that compose the New Orleans Holocaust Memorial, you'll be able to see ten distinct images that tie into the Holocaust and our remembrance of it. As the sun sets on the Mississippi River, the Star of David casts a reminder over the Bayou; nearby on the boardwalk I hear the sound of jazz saxophonists and trumpeters.
2. It takes some time to realize that it is Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans and seventh president of the United States, who is on horseback and greeting visitors as they approach the St. Louis Cathedral in the iconic French Quarter. For a time, with my back towards the Mississippi River, I wonder what that guy from my twenty dollar bill is doing as a statue, guarding the place from Disney's "Hunchback of Notre Dame."
3. There are two things they love here in Louisiana, I'm starting to gather. The LSU Tigers and Huey Long, aka the Kingfish and former governor of Louisiana. The first is made obvious; vibrant purple flags cover the exteriors of almost every building. It takes a visit to the State Capitol (and resting place of Long), to see the slightly more subtle love that Louisiana has for its early Depression-era politician.