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New Iberia family's call to service spans generations

Posted at 7:22 PM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-01 20:54:29-04

NEW IBERIA — Dozens filled the Sugar Cane Festival Building in New Iberia for a musical tribute to veterans.

Among them were three living generations of military men: Ret. Col. Dracus Burke, Ret. Lt. Col. Michael Burke, Ret. Lt. Col. Patrick Burke, and Staff Sgt. Robert Burke.

For the Burke family, serving their country is a tradition that dates back to the Revolutionary War.

"Nobody in my family has ever been drafted. I graduated from Southwestern Louisiana Institute," said Dracus. "I actually finished in 1939, but I gradated with the Class of '40."

After graduation, Dracus enlisted in the Air Force, later becoming a colonel and serving in four wars.

"We had been around him long enough, many years, following my father who was in the Air Force, " said Dracus's son Michael. "We traveled around and enjoyed seeing the various countries. We enjoyed very much that whole lifestyle."

Dracus's sons continued their family's legacy and joined the Army.

"I was one of the youngest infantry officers because I was commissioned when I was 19, went to Vietnam the first time when I was 20, the second time when I was 21," said Dracus's other son Patrick.

Patrick's son Robert said his career in the Army was inspired by his father.

"As a kid, I remember going through school and was asked, 'Who is your hero?' I put my Dad down; he didn't like it too much. But, he's always been my hero," said Patrick.

For all of them, serving is a calling.

"I think freedom isn't free, and we all have a responsibility that we have to take, so we take it," said Patrick.