Julian P. Rau of Decatur received the Knight of the Legion of Honor last week at the French Consulate in Atlanta.
The medal was awarded to Rau and 11 other American veterans who served in France during World War II. Napoleon Bonaparte created the medal to recognize those who provide honorable service to the country.
Rau, who recently celebrated his 89th birthday, has lived in the Decatur area since 1959, said his daughter, Joan Rau.
Mr. Julian P. Rau entered active duty on October 28, 1942, and left the United States for the Mediterranean Theater Operations on June 6, 1943. There, he joined the Company D of the 30th Regiment in the 3rd Infantry Division as a mortarman.
Mr. Rau participated in campaigns in Sicily, Naples-Foggia, where he received a Bronze Star medal as well as in Anzio and Rome-Arno before landing in the South of France on August 15, 1944.
Mr. Rau then participated in campaigns in the Rhine, the Ardennes and Central Europe. On the nights of January 23 and 24, 1945, his division, the 3rd Infantry Division successfully crossed the Ill River and Fecht River in Alsace and seized the first enemy position, despite extremely difficult climate conditions. For this and other heroic endeavours in the Northeast of France, the 3rd Infantry Division was decorated with the French Croix de Guerre with Palm.
Barbet concluded by saying,
We are privileged to be surrounded by so many heroes who fought for the liberation of France and Europe, and we cannot praise these men enough for all they have done. As we celebrate their heroism today, let us not forget that, we too, have a duty to fulfil: to keep the memory of their utmost courage alive for generations to come.