Illinois WWII veteran receives France’s highest service honor
Jules Herman Sitrick single-handedly captured 21 German soldiers while fighting for the United States during World War II. Now, the Morton Grove resident has earned the highest honor awarded by France to a foreign national for service: the Legion d’Honneur.
Jules’ son, Ron Sitrick, said as a child, he used to pull out boxes full of military medals, not understanding their significance. His father never spoke about the role he played in World War II, and he only learned about his dad’s heroics when he was an adult.
When news started to spread of the heroic American who captured German soldiers during a snowstorm, war correspondents and photographers from all of the major U.S magazines tried to track him down, but he had been hospitalized with frozen feet, Ron Sitrick said. His dad continues to downplay his bravery during the war.
“My father, if you tell him he’s a hero, he would tell you he simply did what had to be done,” Ron Sitrick said. “Like most true heroes, he does not view his acts as heroic, but rather, necessary.”
More than 60 people came from across the country to watch as Sitrick received the Legion d’Honneur.
“I was just surprised and touched that on a middle of a Monday afternoon, people broke away from their schedules to be there to celebrate this with my father and to express their deep affection for him,” Ron Sitrick said.
He believes his dad helped change the world.
“We wouldn’t have the United States and France, and the freedoms we know would no longer exist,” Ron Sitrick said. “We take them for granted. The world we live in wouldn’t be the world we see now.”
At the age of 92, Sitrick still runs his advertising agency in Skokie and refuses to retire. He’s the father of three, grandfather of six and great-grandfather of nine, and is adored and cherished by those he holds dear. Ron Sitrick said his dad casts a large shadow.
“My father loves the ideals upon which our country is founded,” he said. “Many people have told me that he serves as a role model for them — as a mentor. They’ve always lauded his ethics, his bravery and his compassion.”
–Illinois News Network