Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Memorial Day Tributes: Making An Impression
By: Paula Bryant
As published in the May 22, 2012 edition of the Gazette-Virginian
This spring, D-Day participant and World War II veteran W. R. Snead was awarded the French Legion of Honor Chevalier award at the French Embassy in Washington, D. C.
A French order established by Napolean Bonaparte in 1802, the National Order of the Legion of Honour is the highest decoration in France and is divided into five various degrees including Chevalier (Knight).
Snead was named a Chevalier for his efforts in helping liberate both France and Europe from the Nazis in World War II.
An amphibious engineer, Mr. Snead’s brigade was attached to the famed 29th Infantry Division and went ashore around 2:30 p.m. the day of the invasion.
A retired contractor who sports a chest full of medals for his service overseas, Mr. Snead went to Normandy in 1999 for the 55th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and has returned twice since then.
In a conversation one day last week, Mr. Snead’s son, South Boston Town Councilman Bill Snead, told us all about the day his dad was honored in Washington.
What particularly sticks out in his mind is the attention our 5th District Congressman Robert Hurt paid to his father and family members who attended the special ceremony.
“People in the French Embassy told us, to their knowledge, Congressman Hurt was the first congressman in their memory who actually took the time to come to the embassy and attend the ceremony. He went way beyond anything we had ever imagined,” Bill said.
After the ceremony was over, Robert spent about 30 minutes talking with his dad personally before meeting other members of the family including Bill and his siblings, Carolyn and Jimmy.
“He was really interested in what dad was into, and then he gave us a tour of the Capitol. He’s a history buff, you know,” Bill added. “He was genuine. He even wanted to get a picture of my dad saluting Eisenhower.”
The busy congressman taking time out of his hectic Washington, D.C. schedule for ordinary citizens who aren’t rich campaign donors sure meant a lot to this South Boston family.
Just ask Bill.