While President Bush met with the President of France in Normandy to remember D-Day, veterans here in Nebraska were also honored by the nation they helped liberate. French Consulate Dominique DeCherf presented all Nebraska World War Two veterans with Thank You diplomas. Speaking on behalf of his President Jacques Chirac, he proclaimed, “I solemnly say to you today, in Lincoln, thank you Nebraska. Thank you America!”
The applause was loud as DeCherf gave Governor Johanns a special coin made in his country as a symbol of gratitude. Despite recent disagreements with France over international affairs, Nebraska Veterans still stood and saluted the French flag as their anthem was played. France is a nation they fought to save; a nation where many of their friends died for freedom.
Every veteran in the attendance has his own story. Some were on the Beach of France, fighting for their lives. Others, like Jack Stewart, were still stationed at home on D-Day but were later in the heat of battle. Stewart even became a prisoner of war. Art Noel also became a POW after participating in D-Day and marrying an English woman.
Floyd Chapman celebrated his 38th birthday as the Allies arrived at Normandy on June 6th, 1944. Today, he not only celebrates his 98th birthday, but his 75th anniversary.
All the veterans are proud to have played such a pivotal role in history. They hope the friendship displayed by America and France today will mean a better relationship in the future.