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U.S. Defense Personnel Honored on Historic French Anniversary

U.S. Defense Personnel Honored on Historic French Anniversary

Published on June 18, 2013
Event Marks Date of General de Gaulle’s June 18th Appeal

- Read the Ambassador’s speech

- See photos of the event on the Embassy’s Flickr.

U.S. military and defense personnel were honored during a ceremony on June 18 to observe a historic French anniversary.

In a celebration commemorating General Charles de Gaulle’s June 18th Appeal, Ambassador François Delattre decorated three Americans at the French embassy.

Addressing members of the Normandy Foundation and former French combatants now living in Washington, Amb. Delattre recognized the French-American friendship that has united the two nations.

“Our two countries owe each other our very existence,” said Amb. Delattre, on the 73rd anniversary of Gen. de Gaulle’s speech.

In his June 1940 broadcast from BBC studios in London, Gen. de Gaulle, the leader of the French Free Forces, made an appeal to French resistance in the face of foreign occupation.

France and the United States have been “bound in blood,” Amb. Delattre said, referring to the 120,000 French servicemen killed in the spring of 1940. U.S. and Allied troops would later fight to liberate France during the D-Day operation that began on June 6, 1944.

Among the American recipients was Major General Tod Wolters, currently the legislative liaison between the U.S. Air Force and Congress. He received the Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction, with the title of Chevalier (Knight). During operations in Afghanistan, French and American forces fought under his command.

The French-American relationship “will endure forever,” he said at the ceremony. It is “always an honor to serve at your side,” Mr. Wolters said, referring to his military service alongside with French military.

Amb. Delattre awarded Brigadier General Mark Clark, a U.S. Navy pilot, with the National Order of Merit with the title of Officer. “We continue side-by-side in our efforts against those who continue to do us harm,” Mr. Clark said. “We must not let that flame die,” he stressed, referring to a famous image from Gen. de Gaulle’s speech.

Frédéric Ruiz-Ramon also received the National Order of Merit for his work with the U.S. Department of Defense, developing chemical and biological defense systems and improving defense technology. With France’s emphasis on science and innovation, Mr. Ruiz-Ramon has contributed to robust French-American relations.

“For 25 years, I’ve tried to bring France and the United States together,” he said. As the son of a French mother, his award was also personal. His grandmother served as a nurse to a U.S. WWI colonel at the French Atlantic port town, Saint-Nazaire, helping move wounded American troops from the French coast.

Membership to both the National Order of Merit and the Legion of Honor is reviewed and approved by the president of France. The distinctions are bestowed upon French or foreign nationals who demonstrate exemplary civil and military service.

See photos of the event on the Embassy’s Flickr.

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