Mayor Lee Posey and City Council Member Eddie Harrington presented Houston Cook with a special plaque of recognition on behalf of his 100th birthday on Dec. 5 at the Community Care Center.
“I appreciate this more than I know how to tell you,” said Houston.
Family and friends gathered earlier in the day for a party with cake and ice cream.
“Natchitoches loves you and we appreciate what you’ve done for your country,” said Posey.
Houston served in the Army from 1941-1945 as a mechanic and technician. He was in the 4th infantry division. His regiment was the very first to land on any of the beaches on D-Day. They landed on Utah Beach.
Posey has known Houston for almost 50 years. Posey worked at Tennessee Gas and Houston was a part of a great group of men that taught him a lot while he worked his summer job. Years later Houston lived in Posey’s district while he served as a City Council member from 1988-2008.
Houston’s daughter Regina Lugene Smith and granddaughter Veronica Cook were with him to celebrate such a special day, as well as Scooter Perot, who used to take care of Houston’s lawn when they were neighbors. His niece Layna and Jim Grau drove in from Florida. Also there to visit him were childhood friends Cheryl and Gary Jeter.
And Houston had plenty of birthday wishes from the over 100 birthday cards he received from friends and family.
Eddie Harrington, his wife Emily, and their two children Alice and Edmund met Houston through the First United Methodist Church.
“My wife brought dinner to him one evening and, knowing I’m a history buff, she told me he had several war medals on the wall,” said Eddie. “I had to go meet him.”
Eddie was amazed to discover Mr. Cook had landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, liberated Paris and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He then discovered, among several medals, Mr. Cook had received a French Legion of Honor. This award is the highest French honor for military service. Napoleon himself created this honor for his elite veteran troops.
Alice’s first grade class even watched a video about World War II and made cards for Mr. Cook’s birthday party.
“It was very important to Emily and I to have our kids get to know Mr Cook,” Eddie said. “My kids, like most, are into super heroes, and Mr. Cook is a real life super hero. They may not fully understand now but one day they will be able to say ‘I knew a man who landed on the beaches on D-Day. I knew a true hero.’”