BIRMINGHAM, Mich. -

The Memorial Day service in Birmingham began with the crowd saluting the American flag.

With hands over their hearts, the crowd at Shain Park pledged their support and respect of the men and women in our military.  They also sang the National Anthem to remember our fallen heroes.

But among them was a living hero, 89-year-old Paul Cicchini.

He was given an honor so special it brought him to tears.

Paul served as a First Sargent in the Army during World War II in France. 

On Monday, he received a medal that gave him the title of Knight of the Legion of Honor. 

It is the highest honor the President of the French Republic can bestow.

"I did what I had to do. I was a sergeant and I served. I didn't do any more than all the others," Cicchini said. "I hope that any action I did made the world better today."

Paul Cicchini medal

Cicchini has been a resident of metro Detroit for more than six decades, but his ties to France are strong.

Cicchini met his wife there -- Yvonne Marie Louise Martineau Cicchini. She was born in Le Mans, France where her husband Cicchini was stationed after his D-Day crossing and service in Normandy. The two have been married for 67 years.

"He calls me his souvenir," Cicchini's wife said.

Cicchini and his wife