Judge Kaliste Saloom, Jr. *
Inducted on July 18, 2009
On Saturday, July 18, 2009, at 4:00 p.m., the Acadian Museum honored Judge Kaliste Saloom, Jr. into the “Order of Living Legends.”
From his birth in Lafayette in 1918, Judge Kaliste Saloom, Jr., has been immersed in the patois and the culture of the Acadian people and their French origins. Having a family tree tracing back centuries to encompass French crusaders in Lebanon helped make his assimilation into Acadian life easy. His parents' fluency in the French language was a factor in their immigration from Lebanon to Louisiana. The Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Monument in Lafayette is dedicated to the memory of his late mother Mrs. Asma Boustany Saloom. The symbolic reunion of Evangeline and Gabriel commemorated in the monument reflects the family's devotion to Acadiana, its history, culture, food, lifestyle and people. From childhood on, Judge Saloom shared all of this with his Acadian neighbors. He grew up in an environment where public schools forbade the use of French, but fortunately, the French-speaking Christian Brothers and Mount Carmel Nuns in Lafayette parochial schools fostered a bilingual education. Those in public schools were restricted to oral and written English and confined to French spoken only away from school. It was a compelling reason why Saloom, in later life, became active in early CODOFIL activities with its founder, James Domengeaux, in the literal renaissance of the French language.
In Saloom’s study of law and the Louisiana Civil Code, the knowledge of the written French language was of immeasurable importance. The knowledge of French, among other educational traits, was a prime reason for his selection into a highly specialized branch of the American Armed Forces in World War II, the Counter-Intelligence Corps, where he was made a Special Agent. This event brought him to French North Africa, where he served in liaison with French military and civilian agencies. After 18 months, Saloom was among those serving with the American 7th and French 1st Armies in the invasion of Southern France in 1944. He dares not speculate what his role in World War II would have been without a knowledge of French. Later in public life, it was rewarding to conduct bi-lingual judicial hearings. Saloom’s wife, Yvonne, has a Tulane University/Newcomb degree majoring in French, and their children continued the Salooms’ role in French studies with summer programs in Belgium and Canada, sponsored by CODOFIL and local educational institutions.