French government to grant knighthood to WWII vet Prewitt of Eden, NC
DiegoMaxwell Banned last edited by
EDEN — Paul Prewitt is adjusting to the idea of knighthood and having plenty of chuckles as his friends and fellow veterans rib him and genuflect in his honor.
The 99-year-old, who served under Gen. George S. Patton during his 2½ years of duty in Europe during World War II, will be made a Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Armor by the French government on Jan. 16 when a French consul general travels to Rockingham County to bestow the honor.
“I’m taking a lot of kidding from a lot of people. They’re always trying to curtsy when they see me,’’ Prewitt said with a laugh on Monday.
“It is an honor, and they are proud. I’m proud,’’ said Prewitt, who will gather with friends and family for the ceremony at the American Legion in Reidsville.
Congratulations to Mr. Prewitt. It should be noted, however, that France’s highest order of merit is called the Legion of Honour (Légion d’honneur), not the Legion of Armour, and also that France doesn’t actually have knighthoods in the same sense as Britain does. “Chevalier” (knight) is indeed one of the Legion of Honour’s five levels, and the name is a holdover from the days when France still had an aristocracy, but the French nobility system went out the window with the French Revolution. I once saw a series of amusing cartoons depicting what life in France would be like today if the Bourbon monarchy hadn’t fallen, and one of them showed an irate air traveler standing at the ticket counter of “Royal Air France” and telling the ticket agent “But I’m a baron and I have a confirmed reservation!” The agent replies, “I’m sorry, sir, but the Duke of So-and-so has precedence over you, so we gave him your seat.” In fairness, the same sort of thing actually happens in real-life republican France. A few years ago, there was scandal involving one of the major D-Day anniversaries (I think it was the 50th one), when the French government contacted various hotels in Normany and appropriated some of their existing reservations so that various French officials could have rooms for the event. Some of those rooms, however, had been reserved by foreign veterans of the D-Day invasion. When the story broke on the front page of French newspapers (under such headlines as “Our Liberators Insulted!”), public opinion was outraged and the French government beat a hasty retreat. The prevailing editorial opinion over this affair was: Do this to our own citizens if you want, but don’t do this to the heroes who ended the occupation of France.