World War II Veterans Awarded Legion of Honor
French-American unity was celebrated at the Embassy of France on February 13, when World War II veterans were decorated with France’s Legion of Honor.
Twenty veterans, of whom 14 were present, were awarded with their medals in a ceremony officiated by Washington’s Consul General of France, Olivier Sérot Almeras, and the Deputy Military Attaché for the French Army, Col. Jacques Aragonès.
During the ceremony, Mr. Sérot Almeras and Col. Aragonès emphasized the sacrifices that were made during World War II for French liberty.
“Grief from the death and destruction went hand-in-hand with our newfound liberty,” said Mr. Sérot Almeras, citing that “60,000 American soldiers were laid to rest on French soil.”
“We are proud to reward the ones that freed us,” added Col. Aragonès. “They left a part of their youth in France.”
The veterans were equally proud of their induction into the Legion of Honor, which Donald Rhine, one of those honored, called “the climax of 70 years of memories.”
“It’s really quite something to be recognized by France,” added Alfred Shehab, who was part of the 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 102nd Cavalry Regiment, and the Essex Troop. “I think it shows a unity between our two nations.”
With his family roots in France, Andrew Aniceti found the award particularly meaningful. Though born in the U.S., he spent much of his childhood in France and said he was proud to serve in the American forces, fighting for a nation he knew well.
The other veterans honored are Abraham Beer, Ralph Cartwright, Ralph Christie, William De Graf, William Dein, Allen Greer, Alois Groegler, Charles Johnson, William Hughes, Lewis Miller, and Alfred Palachios. Donald Butzer, Horace Meyers, Arthur Schintzel, William Darby, Nicholas Lamia, and James Lavey were also inducted into the Legion of Honor, but they were not present.
Established in 1802 by Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte, France’s National Order of the Legion of Honor, or Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, recognizes excellent civil or military conduct.
For photos from the event, please click here.