These American World War II veterans are now French Knights

Julia LeDoux
May 08, 2019 - 2:28 pm
World War II veterans

Julia LeDoux

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A group of American World War II veterans who helped liberate France from Nazi Germany has been awarded France’s highest honor.

Council General of France Michel Charbonnier presented the Legion of Honor to the men Tuesday during a ceremony at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., in advance of the 75th anniversary of the June 6, 1944 D-Day landings at Normandy. That invasion marked the beginning of the end of the war in Europe.

“We will always remember what the price was, thousands of lives of American soldiers,” he said. “We, the French, will never forget that in the darkest hour of our history you, the American people, were by our side.”

100-year-old Vernon Foster was among those who received the distinction.  In an earlier interview, the World War II tank commander told the Baltimore Sun that he  "probably shouldn’t say this, but I’ve been honored so many times, I have so many plaques I can’t even count them,” but is appreciative of the honor.

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Napoleon Bonaparte established the award in 1802. France has honored numerous American service members who helped liberate the country from Nazi Germany with the award. Among those who have received the distinction are former President Dwight Eisenhower, who commanded the D-Day invasion.

Eisenhower’s daughter, Susan, attended the event.

“It’s very moving to pay tribute to our allied effort on the Normandy coast,” she said.

Retired Marine Maj. Gen. Andrew Davis, CEO of the World War II Foundation, said the landings on Normandy represented the large and most complex human endeavor in history up to that point.

“We actually owe our freedom and democracy to these brave men and women who are with us tonight,” he said.

World War II planes will fly over D.C. Friday in honor of D-Day 75th anniversary

World War II veteran and former Sen. Bob Dole was presented with the World War II Foundation’s Eagle award during the ceremony.

“I obviously don’t deserve it, but I’ll take it,” he quipped.

Bob Dole
Julia LeDoux

The statue is presented annually to a World War II veteran who returned from the war and has ensured legacy will not be forgotten.

Beginning next year, the statue will be renamed the Sen. Bob Dole World War II Leadership Award. Dole served with the 10th Mountain Division and was seriously wounded while fighting in Italy during World War II.  He spends his Saturdays greeting veterans at the World War II Memorial in Washington.

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