WWII Georgia veterinarian who witnessed German surrender honored by French government


A Georgia Veteran of World War II who participated in the Normandy landings and is considered the last living witness to the German surrender in Reims, France received the highest distinction from the French government on Friday.

Luciano “Louis” Graziano, 98, received the medal of the Legion of Honor in a ceremony at the First United Methodist Church of Thomson, Georgia., a town about 30 miles west of Augusta.

Chosen by the French president, in this case Emmanuel Macron, the Legion of Honor rewards both French and foreign citizens for having served the French Republic and its ideals, both in civil and business affairs and on the battlefield.

Entered active service on January 22, 1943, Mr. Graziano participated in the third wave of the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, known as D-Day, when Allied troops launched a massive amphibious assault to gain control from the region of northern France. and soon after, much of Western Europe – from the German occupation.

As a utility foreman during the military campaigns in northern France and the Rhineland, Mr. Graziano oversaw the maintenance of buildings operated by U.S. forces in Reims, France, including the technical school which became known as “little red schoolWhere Germany signed unconditional surrender documents ending the bloody conflict in Europe on May 7, 1945. The French consulate in Atlanta said Mr. Graziano would be the only surviving witness to the event.

Consul General Vincent Hommeril pays tribute to the heroism of Mr. Graziano during a Legion of Honor ceremony on Friday, September 17. Photo: Consulate General of France in Atlanta

Consul General of France Vincent Hommeril, a native of Normandy whose father told him stories about the bravery of the American liberators, was on hand to pin the medal on Mr. Graziano’s jacket, praising his sacrifice and that of many other Americans who helped France preserve the freedoms it shares with the United States.

“You are a true hero. Your example is an inspiration for the future and your legacy provides a moral compass for generations to come,” Mr. Hommeril said. Atlanta Journal-Constitution as told.

Mr Graziano, who wore a diagonal striped tie in the colors of the French flag, received a standing ovation from a crowd numbering in the hundreds, the newspaper reported. Three generations of Grazianos spoke, including a son who also served in the Vietnam War and received three purple hearts.

In addition to the French honor, Mr. Graziano received the Europe-Africa-Middle East Service Medal with two bronze campaign stars, the American Service Medal and the WWII Victory Medal, between other distinctions.

The celebration of Franco-American friendship on September 17 provided a counterpoint to sobering news that cast a veil over the United States’ oldest alliance that same day.

As a drastic diplomatic measure, France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia Friday to protest an arms deal announced earlier last week. Known as AUKUS, the deal will see the United States supplying nuclear-powered submarines and related technology to Australia, undermining a $ 60 billion deal France had signed with the nation. Pacific for diesel powered submarines.

France says it was not consulted before the deal and was not notified until just before the announcement. Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean Yves Le Drian called it a “stab in the back” and a “brutal” decision in line with something from the former president Donald trump would have done, a blow to the president Joe bidento rebuild fractured European alliances.

The consulate, which covers the six southeastern states of the United States of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and the Carolinas, has three Legion of Honor ceremonies for WWII veterans this month alone. The celebrations had been postponed for a year until May due to COVID-19.

In June, Mr. Hommeril traveled to another town near Augusta to award the Legion of Honor to seven terms of mayor of Grovetown, Georgia.

Denis trudeau, 96, participated in D-Day as a Canadian paratrooper, was wounded in combat and captured as a prisoner of war, working in a coal mine until his liberation in May 1945, afrom the Chronicle of Augusta. He then served in the United States Army until 1967 and as a civilian signals instructor until 1975.

Consul General Vincent Hommeril will discuss the Legion of Honor ceremonies with Global Atlanta during a consular lunch meeting on Wednesday, September 22 at noon. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.