It was time Benjamin Schmidt received credit for the valor he showed on the battlefield.
And 100 years late is better than never.
Schmidt, a soldier from DeWitt in World War I, received the Purple Heart posthumously Sunday at a ceremony at the Veterans Club in Beatrice.
Schmidt’s daughter, Betty Deats, was instrumental in obtaining the award for her father. She contacted Phil Dittbrenner, the Gage County veteran’s services officer, who then contacted Sen. Deb Fischer’s office.
Schmidt was wounded at the battle of St. Mihiel in France on Sept. 15, 1918. He was a member of the U.S. Army's 89th Division, comprised mostly of soldiers from the Midwest. After the war, Schmidt returned to DeWitt and was active in the American Legion, which was founded after World War I.
Deats' family shared mementos with the crowd that attended the ceremony, including the bullet that struck Schmidt and some military gear.
Dittbrenner said he was glad to see the Gage County community unite to honor a hero, even so long after his sacrifice.
“We’ve got a patriotic community,” Dittbrenner said. “Everyone is always happy to help with things like this.”
Deats said her father rarely spoke about the war, but he did tell one story. Once, the Red Cross handed out candy bars to the soldiers and took their picture. After the picture, the Red Cross re-collected the candy bars and moved on to the next unit.
Schmidt was a carpenter and a farmer, and Deats said he enjoyed working outside.
Most of her family is gone, Deats said, so it meant a lot to her to receive the award.
“It was very wonderful that it finally did get accomplished,” she said.