Dr. Ben Hartnell and Westerville North High School student Nathan Stallings are pictured with WWII veteran John J. Day, Jr. Right: Stallings and Hartnell with Guillaume Lacroix, Consul General of France.
It is not every day that one is given the opportunity to witness history. However, that is exactly what happened to Westerville North High School history teacher Dr. Ben Hartnell who, along with student Nathan Stallings, were invited to attend a very special ceremony hosted by local VFW Post 7883. On Tuesday morning, October 8, 97-year-old World War II veteran John J. Day, Jr. received the French Legion of Honor Award (created by Napoleon Bonaparte) from Guillaume Lacroix, the Consul General of France. This is the highest award bestowed by the French Government. Lacroix was dispatched to Westerville to make the presentation on behalf of French President Emmanuel Macron. Lacroix thanked Mr. Day for liberating his country and for saving his family’s life. His grandfather, you see, spent five years in a Nazi POW camp.
Dr. Hartnell said it was an incredible ceremony and that “Mr. Lacroix’s speech was one of the most beautiful tributes I have ever heard. It’s not every day you get to meet someone who is a hero in two countries”.