Earlier this month, America celebrated the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Each year, the number of folks who remember that occasion — especially those who were there — grows smaller.
The French government is bestowing the “Légion d’Honneur” upon eligible U.S. survivors of that memorable day, as well as eligible U.S. soldiers who fought on French soil and contributed to the liberation of that country.
One local man is taking that a step further. Jean-Pierre Lavielle does not work for the French government, or any organization. But he is French — the son of a paratroop officer who fought in World War II — so he decided to look for all eligible veterans living in Connecticut.
The “Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur” was founded by Napoleon in 1802 to reward his soldiers’ gallantry and valiance in combat.
So Jean-Pierre is searching for U.S. veterans who not only were in D-Day or other significant battles for the liberation of France — like the Battle of the Bulge — but who also accomplished something special.
Once he identifies potential recipients, he interviews them. Because they tire easily now, he limits his sessions — at least 6 of them — to 20 minutes each.He collects documents, discharge papers, pictures and newspaper clippings. After double-checking, he files an application with the French Consulate in New York. They contact Paris, where the file is scrutinized.
“This is a race against the clock,” Jean-Pierre says. “Unfortunately, many eligible veterans die every day.”
Any Connecticut veterans who may be eligible for the honor — or their relatives — should email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him at 203-862-7373 or 203-635-3117.
Bonne chance! Et merci!