July 8, 2004 – Sen. Lorraine Berry was praised for her contributions to the French culture in the Virgin Islands on Thursday evening as she received an honor bestowed by Jacques Chirac, the president of France.
A throng of well wishers attended the reception at Best Western Emerald Beach Resort where Berry was presented with the Ordre National du Mérite by Christophe Bouchard, consul general of France in Miami.
"It's an awesome honor which I will always hold dear," Berry said upon receiving the medal.
Berry was nominated for the award by Odile de Lyrot, the honorary consul of France on St. Thomas.
"I thought Lorraine Berry had a great profile for this decoration," de Lyrot said. "It's to reward people who have shown remarkable actions and attitudes toward the French culture."
French Heritage Week on St. Thomas has flourished during Berry's more than two decades in the Legislature, bringing recognition to the contributions of people of French descent. The week is observed annually in connection with Bastille Day, France's independence day, on July 14. For a run-down of this year's activities, see "French Heritage Week Includes Honor, Dedication".
"I feel humbled," Berry said Thursday evening. "All through the years I have been involved in French Heritage Week, I never dreamed that I would be awarded for it."
Berry is the first Virgin Islander to receive the award, one of two given by the government of France. The other is the Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur.
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