Township Centenarian, WWII French Resistance Fighter, Is Honored By His Native Country

VIVE LES PARTISANS – Michel Mockers speaks after receiving the key to the township from Mayor Phil Kramer.

It was 78 years in the making, but Michel Mockers, a member of the French Resistance during World War II, finally received the highest recognition available from his native country at a special ceremony March 21 in the Township Council chamber.

Mockers, who turned 100 in December, received the Knight of the Legion of Honor award before a crowd of friends, family and fellow veterans from the United States and France.

Mayor Phil Kramer also presented Mockers with a ceremonial key to the township, and state Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-17) presented him with a commendation from the Assembly.

Legion of Honor medals can only be presented by current Legion of Honor awardees, so on this day the task fell to Alain Dupuis.

After his medal was pinned to his jacket lapel, Mockers said he hoped the spirits of the men and women with whom he served were in the room to watch him receive the award.

“If you believe in souls … they can all be here and I did ask them to be here to see me receive the medal,” he said. “Because in fact if I did receive that medal, it’s not because of what I did it’s because I existed and they needed to do what they did. So I wanted all of them to know that.”

Earlier, Mockers said that he fought in the Resistance “to get free, to remain free. You wanted your people to be free … and act as they want.”

During the roughly hour-long program, the Star-Spangled banner was sung by Franklin High School student Rebecca Russo, and La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, was sung by Jean-Baptiste Chaléroux.

The Franklin Township Police Honor Guard brought the colors for the Pledge of Allegiance.

The keynote speaker was Jérémie Robert, the French Consul General, who said that the entire nation of France was proud of what Mockers did.

Just prior to his being awarded the medal, the song of the French Resistance, “Chant des Partisans” was played.

The poem “Liberté” was read by two FHS students, and the FHS choir closed the program with “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”

The Franklin Reporter & Advocate recorded the program:

Here are some scenes from the event:

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