BELDING, Mich. (WOOD) — A Belding World War II veteran, who has been around for more than a century, was honored Thursday by a nation he helped free.

On the behalf of France and President Emmanuel Macron, Consul General Guillaume Lacroix of France in Chicago presented Staff Sgt. George Babcock with his country’s highest award, the French Legion of Honor.

“I’m proud of the country that I fought for,” Babcock said.

Lacroix pended the medal on the veteran’s jacket, symbolizing eternal gratitude for his service.

“We owe you and American’s greatest generation such a debt,” Lacroix told Babcock. “Mr. Babcock risked everything for our freedom. He risked everything for France’s independence.”

In the past three years, Lacroix said he’s presented at least nine other French Legions of Honor awards to WWII veterans in Michigan.

Babcock, who’s 101 years old, is the oldest veteran Lacroix has awarded with the distinction.

“I fought because I thought this country was the best it was in the world, and a lot of people depended on us to do what we thought was right,” Babcock said.

It’s that fight Babcock’s fellow veterans said will never get lost in history and a fight he said he’d join all over again.

“If I had to do it all over again, I most certainly would,” Babcock said.

Lacroix said the French Legion of Honor can be awarded to any person who has contributed to France and it’s citizens’ well-being. He told News 8 the medal can be awarded to civilians, doctors and other people who serve the country in any capacity.