Jane Walker Snider, Executive Director of ACWA, was contacted by Mathilde Ducret, Consulat General de France a Chicago, in October 2006. Would ACWA arrange for an event during which Eugene E. Spack of Salem, Ohio, would receive an important distinction from the French government? This would coincide with a visit ACWA had already arranged with Isabelle Marques-Gross, from the Consulate, to participate in two days of programs in Akron.
Ms. Ducret provided history on her government's awarding of honors to U.S. military veterans. In an effort to recognize the outstanding deeds accomplished by American soldiers during World War II, the French Republic began awarding its highest distinction to some veterans in 2004: Knight of the Legion of Honor. Created by Napoleon, this is the highest honor that France can bestow upon individuals who have achieved remarkable deeds for France. Ms. Ducret said, "It is also a sign of true gratitude for their invaluable contribution to the liberation of France during these difficult times in the history of our nation."
On October 19, 2006, Mrs. Marques-Gross decorated Eugene E. Spack, WWII veteran, at a ceremony hosted by ACWA at The Hilton Inn, in Fairlawn, Ohio. At the ceremony, Mrs. Marques-Gross said, "Mr. Spack demonstrated a remarkable sense of duty. Mr. Spack enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 21 and participated in several campaigns including Normandy, Northern and Eastern France. For these achievements, the American government presented him with a prestigious award, a Bronze Star. To show our eternal gratitude, the government of the French Republic is awarding him the Legion of Honor."
Mr. Spack was accompanied by his family and other veterans of WWII from AMVETs, the VFW, Disabled American Veterans and ex-POWs.
The Salem News subsequently interviewed Mr. Spack and ran the following article, by staff writer Elizabeth Ewing. ACWA has received permission to reprint this.
Read the Salem News article.
View photos from the ceremony honoring Eugene E. Spack with the French Legion of Honor.
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