France honors Montgomery man for actions in WW II

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - April 11, 1945. Robert Lieberman was all of 20, a soldier in the U.S. Army. "It was very bad," said Lieberman.

Lieberman remembers because he was there; northern France, a concentration camp, thousands dead or near death.

"Any picture you see of the Holocaust, that's what it looked like. Dead bodies strewn everywhere, sick people, starving people," said Lieberman.

But in the midst of all that sadness Lieberman and his fellow soldiers did something wonderful. They liberated the camp and more than 60 years later, France did not forget.

"I was just among many men trying to get a job done," said Lieberman.

The country thought enough about it to award Mr. Lieberman the nation's highest honor, the Legion of Honor medal, pinned on his lapel over the weekend in Atlanta by the French Ambassador to the United States.

"It means a lot that they French people haven't forgotten us," said Lieberman.

A bit of history. The medal was established by Napoleon in 1802. France awards the medal to about 100 World War Two veterans a year.

Robert Lieberman says he didn't seek it. Still, he plans to have it framed and hang it on the wall of his Montgomery home along with the rest of his war medals and ribbons.

Lieberman shares what he was thinking during the ceremony at the High Museum in Atlanta.

"I was thinking about my friends and relatives who have passed on. I remember my comrades who were killed right off the bat. I remember them as young men," said Lieberman.

Although the recognition was nice, Lieberman will tell you his greatest achievement as a soldier was the liberation itself and the gratitude that poured out of grateful hearts on that day in 1945.

"One or two people came up to me and said 'thank you' and they were crying," said Lieberman.

Today at 87 Robert Lieberman is a retired chemist, living the quiet life in Montgomery. He insists he's no hero, just someone who did his job and saved a few lives along the way.

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