Chicago World War II veteran receives France's highest honor

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A World War II veteran received France's highest distinction- the French Legion of Honor Medal. His award is making Chicago Proud.

Benjamino Marraccini grew up in Bridgeport, joined the army, and was part of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France. He is a first generation American, and his parents came to Chicago from Sicily in 1921.

With his hand firmly on his heart, Chicagoan Benjamino Marraccini was honored Friday.

"We are honoring a hero," Guillaume Lacroix, Consul General of France.

He is an American hero who stormed Normandy Beach on D-Day, eventually liberating France.

The French consul general pinned the soldier with France's Legion of Honor Medal.

"It's a great honor to receive something like this from a great country," said Marraccini.

"Without him, the French flag would not be flying today. My parents and grandparents would have lived in tyranny. He saved us and changed everything forever in my country," said Lacroix.

The honor happened in front of young eyes at Lycée Francais de Chicago- The French International School. It was a lesson from one generation to the next.

"I think they can learn there is a lot of loyalty, a lot of dedication, love for your country. The two generations, the two countries can still get along and everyone can possibly learn from all that," said Joseph Tito, Marraccini's nephew.

"The fact that all of our generations can be brought together and honor this man who served our country is very emotional," said Maeva Saint-Omer.

He took pictures, signed autographs, and it happened to be his birthday. He is 97 years old.

"I feel pretty good. For my age, I think I'm pretty good," said Marraccini.

After the awards ceremony it was time to dance and really celebrate.

Happy birthday, Benjamino Marraccini.
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