A WWII veteran who brought Christmas cheer to a wartorn Luxembourg town over 70 years ago was last week awarded Luxembourg’s highest military honour.
Richard Brookins, now 94, is known the world over as the American St Nick after he donned a beard and dressed up as Kleeschen for the children of Wiltz during World War II.
Then a US GI, in December of 1944 Brookins toured the recently liberated town in an army Jeep handing out sweets to the delighted children.
This small but memorable gesture helped forge a friendship that has blossomed over decades, with Brookins and his family returning to Wiltz on several occasions for the annual Christmas parade. He told reporters that he did it to honour his fellow soldiers, who he said have all now passed away.
Brookins, who lives in Rochester, New York, was unable to attend last year because of ill health but he was never far from people’s thoughts in Luxembourg. On July 7, he was presented with the Luxembourg Military Medal by the Consul General of the Luxembourg Consul in New York at a small ceremony at the Genesee Valley Club of Rochester.
“We are so proud to have the American Kleeschen as a shared patrimony between the U.S. and Luxembourg, and we congratulate and thank Mr. Brookins for the joy his legacy has brought to generations!” the US Embassy in Luxembourg posted on its Facebook page.