By Warren Arceneaux American Press
The Kevin Wayne Yokum Memorial Overpass will now feature a likeness of its namesake.
A new sign featuring a picture of Yokum, a Navy petty officer killed in the 9/11 attacks, a Purple Heart medal and the words “Never Forget” was unveiled at a ceremony near the overpass Thursday morning.
In 2003, the Shattuck Street overpass was dedicated to Yokum, who died at age 27 while working in the Pentagon.U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany was guest speaker at the dedication ceremony.
“I just met the Yokums (Kevin’s parents, Allan Sr. and Beulah) and I can see a spirituality, a deep sense of faith and belief in our country, in their eyes,” Boustany said.
“I want to thank you for Kevin’s service to our country, as well as Kevin’s brother (Allan Jr.), who is currently serving. Kevin Yokum was a true American hero. Kevin knew when he first put that uniform on, the Navy uniform he wore so proudly, Kevin knew that at any moment, for our sake, that he could step into harm’s way — for the sake of our country, for the sake of all of us. And he knew that each day that he went to work, that as a member of the armed services, his job was to protect us. And he answered that call. Kevin was a true hero. Kevin was a protector of American lives. That is why we are here to honor him.”
Dinah Robinson, principal of John F. Kennedy Elementary, which Yokum attended, said he is an inspiration.
“He was a hero among heroes to the children that reside in Lake Charles and children all over the world,” she said.
“His life, his legacy and his actions will live forever. Kevin has proven that any and every thing is possible — for you, for me and all our children.”
Retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Harry Cormier read a message from Bill Rafferty, a sailor on the USS Fitzgerald, which Yokum once served on:
“I just want to let you know that we have got one of the most powerful arsenals, 83,000 tons of steel, that have got your back. What’s more powerful than the arsenal, the weaponry we have onboard, is the simple fact that we have got Kevin Yokum’s legacy — the air that he breathed in the ship from being a plank owner.”
Beulah Yokum said Kevin was able to live his dream, and she hopes seeing the memorial inspires children to set and accomplish their goals.
“I want the kids in this city to know that you can stick to your goals and go for it,” she said. “I give credit to everyone in the community that helped Kevin get to where he wanted to be, from schools to the clubs he was in. Always look forward, set a goal for yourself, is what I tell young people. When you look at this, think that it is possible.”