Thomas Andras, Jr. End of Watch: Thursday, 3 February 2022 The seeds on good soil, the parable of the sower tells us, stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering, produce a crop. The seed on good soil. Thomas ‘Tommy’ Andras came from good soil.
And in this sturdy frame, goodness took root.
At a young age, Tommy joined the Louisiana National Guard and became a soldier to protect the liberties and rights of others. His commitment to public service and the needs and rights of others would never, ever waver. Tommy’s example, a son of parents who rose from life on Laurel Valley Plantation to carve out a little something in life, a public servant who toiled to guarantee that the least of us have the opportunities that we are entitled to, a leader who was once willing to die for his people, even as he lived every minute for them — his life validates the things we tell ourselves about what is possible in this country. Not guaranteed, but possible.
But rather, through our work, with our dedication, and our willingness to open our hearts to God’s message of love for all people, we can live a purposeful life. We can reap a bountiful harvest. We are neither sentenced to weather among the rocks nor assured a bounty, but we have a capacity, a chance, as individuals and as a nation, to root ourselves in good soil. Tommy understood that. That’s why he became a soldier. That’s why he embraced his beloved community of Choctaw. That’s why he went on to become a volunteer firefighter, for years protecting the lives and property of the people of the Choctaw community. He was never complacent, for he knew that without clarity of purpose and a steadfast faith, and a dogged faith, the promise of this nation and of our community would wither. Complacency, he knew, was not only corrosive for our collective lives, but for our individual lives.
It has been remarked that Tommy was a kind man. If I had children, I would want them to know how much I love them, but I would also want them to know that being a strong man includes being kind. That there is nothing weak about kindness and compassion. There is nothing weak about looking out for others. There is nothing weak about being honorable. You are not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect.
I was sitting here tonight thinking about how we refer to judges and Congressmen and Senators as ‘honorable’ — you know, that is a title that we confer on all kinds of people who are public servants. We are supposed to introduce them as ‘honorable’. Tommy wasn’t a judge or a Congressman, but he was ‘honorable’ because of the life he lived. There’s a difference.
There is a difference if you were honorable and treated others honorably. Outside the limelight. Getting out of your bed at 2:30 in the morning to give so much to save someone’s life, or their home. People knew they could always count on Tommy to be honorable and do the right thing.
And people have talked about his voice. There was something about his voice. It just made you feel better. There’s some people, they have that deep baritone, a prophetic voice. And when it was good times and we achieved victories together, that voice and that sense of humor was a gift. But you needed it more during the tough times, when the path ahead looked crooked, when obstacles abounded. When we entertained doubts, or we saw those who were in the fight start to waver, that’s when Tommy’s voice mattered most.
Two hundred years to 300 years from now, people will look back at this moment in time and they will ask the question ‘What did you do’. And remembering Tommy’s legacy, we would be reminded that it falls upon each of us to always fight the good fight, to defend our nation and provide opportunity to everyone, and to always serve and take care of our community.
Tommy was a man of noble and good heart. His parents planted the seeds of hope, and love, and compassion, and righteousness in that good soil of his. He has harvested all the crops that he could, for the Lord has now called Tommy home, to give his humble, faithful servant rest. And it now falls on us to continue his work, so that other people from Choctaw, across Louisiana, across the United States, and around the world might too have a chance to grow and to flourish. That’s how we will honor him. That’s how we will remember him. That’s what he would hope for.
May God bless the memory of Thomas ‘Tommy’ Andras, Jr.
— Kelsey J. Benoit
Choctaw Volunteer Fire Department 2854 Choctaw Road Thibodaux, Louisiana 70301 Phone: (985) 633-2888