FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — The heroes who fought 70 years ago on the beaches of Normandy and throughout France earned the highest distinction the country of France can bestow.
It’s France’s way of saying thank you for their efforts.
Seventy years ago these men were just older than boys — yet they devoted their lives to secure freedom in World War II.
On Friday, on board the USS New York, the nation of France honored each of the 22 men with the Legion of Honor medals.
Joe McHugh is about to turn 100. He was an army surgeon during D-day
“It’s something that you can’t express in ordinary terms. I don’t think you can communicate to another person how you really feel. I am deeply indebted,” said McHugh.
George Luciano was an Army veteran who is proud of his service and is grateful that France is recognizing him and other veterans 70 years later.
“I think it’s great that people still remember what we did for them,” said Luciano.
His daughter Gail said this honor means a lot to him.
“It’s wonderful because they’re so proud of their service and it comes at a time in their lives when they may not feel so viable so it gives their morale a boost,” said Gail.
It also shows that 70 years after D-day and some of the other fierce battles that secured freedom in Europe these men are not forgotten and their sacrifice still matters.
Cy Mermelstein only wishes more of those he fought with side by side were alive to see it.
“It’s an honor and it’s also humbling the fellas that should receive it are not here,” said Mermelstein.
With the medal, the veterans now have the title Knight in the National Order of the Legion of Honor.
This is an honor that was created by Napoleon in 1802…
The Legion was founded in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte. Notable Americans who have received the award include: Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Dwight D. Eisenhower and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.