LORAIN — Michael Demich sat quietly in a wheelchair as a battery of TV cameras trained on him and reporters sought his reaction to the festivities in his honor.
Asked if he liked all the fuss being made over him, Demich, 89, smiled and shook his head no.
Coming from a generation that saw the sacrifices made during World War II as nothing more than doing its job, Demich, 89, was recognized in a ceremony Tuesday morning at the Lorain Veterans Administration Clinic inside the St. Joseph Community Center.
He was presented a new Purple Heart and other medals by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown to replace one stolen during a home break-in.
In handing the medals to Demich, Brown, D-Avon, characterized the soft-spoken man as typical of a “generation of soldiers who rarely talked about it (their wartime experiences) to their kids,” adding that Demich exemplified the many who “saved our country from such awful things during the war … who saved us from Nazism.”
“We are honored to present these medals to you for all you have done for us,” U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton said to Demich, who was ringed by daughters Cheryl Litz and Linda Harrell, and son Ray. Another son, Greg, was unable to attend.
A grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of five, Demich was originally awarded a Purple Heart for shrapnel wounds he received during a battle in France after the D-Day landing in June 1944, but that medal was stolen during a Sept. 24 burglary that made national headlines.
Reports of the burglary elicited no fewer than seven offers by veterans and their families across the country to replace his stolen Purple Heart with their own.
“All veterans should get this kind of recognition,” Litz said.
Demich’s Purple Heart was returned a week later by a man who told the veteran he bought the medal from a friend but returned it once he saw the story about the theft.
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