Written by Jess Paniszczyn
History buffs, students and officials filled Dallas City Hall’s Flag Room to honor seven World War II heroes.
Dubbed the ‘Magnificent Seven’, each of the Texans were honored by the French government with the National Order of the Legion of Honour for their part in helping to liberate France.
Herbert Durham of Dallas and Gerald French of Lufkin fought from the air. Eugene Hodges of Irving, Al Gitelman of Dallas and Jack Beddingfield of Argyle stormed the beaches at Normandy on D-Day; while Charles Atchley of Waxahachie and David Stear of Amarillo fought in eastern France.
“In history, it is important to honor greatness,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. “It is important to honor people who do things we wish we had done. It is important because they become our mythology for the future. To fight in WWII, to help liberate the wonderful country of France… it is such a momentous day, no words can express the gratitude for the service, but this medal comes pretty close.”
The French Consul General, Sujiro Seam, awarded the men the Legion of Honour’s Chevalier, one of five degrees that characterize the award.