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Professor emeritus gets France's highest honor for WWII service

  |   Kristen B. Morales   |   Permalink

A decorated former professor of the UGA College of Education was recently honored with the Legion of Honor, France's highest citizen honor, during a ceremony in Atlanta.

Robert N. (Bob) Saveland, an Athens resident who taught social science education from 1968 to 1985, was one of 10 World War II veterans honored by the Consul General of France, Denis Barbet. The June 4 ceremony took place at the state Capitol with family and friends looking on.

The Legion of Honor was created more than 200 years ago by Napoleon and is the highest distinction France can confer on a citizen or foreigner. It recognizes exceptional service to France and rewards eminent military and civil merits, and comes with the rank of knight.

"I wish to express our deepest gratitude for what you did to liberate France and Europe. And in doing so, we also recall the ultimate sacrifice of the 400,000 American soldiers who died during WWII and of your comrades who rest on the French soil," said Barbet during his prepared remarks. "We, the French, will never forget, and today, it is a great privilege to honor you."

Barbet also addressed each veteran, noting how they entered the war and the other honors they received. Saveland, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1946, was a lieutenant junior grade aboard the LST-533, which took part in the invasion of Normandy.

Saveland's supply ship landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, with tanks and other supplies. It would later go on to make 42 crossings of the English Channel to bring supplies into France.

In recognition of Saveland's service, he was previously awarded the European-African-Middle Eastern Medal with one star, and World War II Victory Medal, and the American Theater Medal.

Saveland was also recognized several years ago for his contributions to the field of education, receiving the George J. Miller Award for Distinguished Service to Geographic Education, the top award presented by the National Council for Geographic Education. In his retirement, he has remained active in the Athens community as a supporter of the UGA Performing Arts Center and by donating boats to Sandy Creek Park to establish a community sailing program.

"Your example gives us inspiration for the future, and we are trying to prove ourselves worthy of your legacy in defending our shared values," added Barbet. "We thank you for your service and your sacrifice."

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