Category Archives: History

‘The Eyes of the World Are Upon You’

[Today marks 74 years since the D-Day invasion. Two years ago the small community of Bedford, Virginia, invited Virginia and the world to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord. Here are photos from that day (see also Part 2).]

DSCN1760 (2)“Fifty-seven years ago, America and the nations of Europe formed a bond that has never been broken. And all of us incurred a debt that can never be repaid. Today, as America dedicates our D-Day Memorial, we pray that our country will always be worthy of the courage that delivered us from evil and saved the free world.” –President George W. Bush (at National D-Day Memorial dedication, June 6, 2001)

Monday, June 6, 2016, was a day for sights and sounds and memories and stories from some of the few remaining veterans who survived June 6, 1944. It was the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord — the allied invasion of Normandy, known as D-Day — that marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

Exiting the four-lane highway in Bedford and turning onto Overlord Drive, it is a quiet drive through open fields up the hill to a place of reverence and thankfulness. Surrounded by the peaceful Virginia countryside with the Blue Ridge Mountains, including Sharp Top and Flat Top mountains that form the Peaks of Otter in the distance, the National D-Day Memorial provides an opportunity to learn and reflect on a pivoting event in America’s — and the world’s — history.

The overwhelming extent of the sacrifices made as well as the huge operation that involved 150,000 Allied troops, 5,000 ships, 11,000 aircraft, and huge losses of more than 9,000 Allied soldiers who died, including 2,499 American soldiers, in the largest amphibious landing the world had ever seen, was sobering.

The liberation of Europe began that day and, though the war would continue for almost a year longer, the Normandy invasion gave Allied forces an opening to begin working their way across Europe to defeat Hitler.

Thankfully, the vision of D-Day veteran Bob Slaughter to have a national site to remember and honor those involved was achieved, and the National D-Day Memorial was dedicated on June 6th, 2001, by President George W. Bush.

My husband and I arrived early on June 6, 2016, and stayed into the afternoon, attending the 11:00 am ceremony, strolling the grounds, reading the historical plaques, and listening to the roll call of names. We left with a renewed appreciation for the Greatest Generation. Below are photos that capture a small part of the day. May we never forget.

Why Bedford for the national memorial? As explained in the video, the memorial is a reminder of the extreme sacrifice the small Virginia town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains made during the invasion on June 6, 1946. They lost more men per capita than any other location in America. Of the 30 Bedford soldiers in Company A, 19 perished that day and four others during the war. That sacrifice by the Bedford Boys was the reason their town was chosen as the site for the national memorial. For photos of the memorial’s tribute to the Bedford Boys, see 72 years later … the Bedford Boys.

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For the first time ever the roll call of the names of the 2,499 Americans killed on D-Day was read by volunteers whose voices could be heard throughout the memorial’s grounds. The honoring of the fallen continued for three hours into the afternoon with names read by veterans, families, volunteers, and dignitaries.

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“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.” –Laurence Binyon

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The Bedford Boys seemed to come to life Monday.

DSCN1771 (2)Visitors began arriving prior to the 11am ceremony. Veterans were seated under shady awnings out of the sun’s glare.

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DSCN1797 (2)The 29th Division Drum and Fife band and honor guard.

DSCN1804 (2)A P-51 Mustang circled the site and made two passes over the memorial at the beginning of the ceremony. The World War II vintage aircraft was an American long-range, single-seat fighter-bomber used throughout the war and on D-Day (see Air Power Over the Normandy Beaches and Beyond). The pilots who flew the aircraft (see WW II pilot remembers D-Day, 72 years later) and gliders (see The Flying Coffins of World War II) were instrumental to allied forces, flying bombing missions and delivering troops and supplies.

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See also….

Part 2: Bedford D-Day Memorial Remembrance, Reading of Names of Those Lost on June 6, 1944

Remembering D-Day With the Bedford Boys

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

The Price of War

Today is the 73rd anniversary of V-E Day — victory in Europe — marking the end of World War II in that part of the world. Six weeks earlier, on March 21, 1945, a Virginia soldier was killed by Germans while battling along the Siegfried Line. He was 27 years old, my mother’s oldest brother.

His name was Clarence Osborne, the oldest of nine siblings. My mom was the baby of the family, a student at Thomas Dale High School in Chester, when her brother was killed. She still remembers her mother’s reaction that fateful day when the official government car drove up the driveway of their Chesterfield County farm many decades ago, and how her mother’s knees buckled as she realized the presence of that car meant her son had been killed. Mom says her mother, who lived into her 80s, never completely got over the loss.

After retiring, Mom spent hours researching to fill the void of not knowing exactly what happened to her brother and eventually found Clarence’s sergeant, Dock Roberts, living in Texas. Another soldier buddy, Emelio Albert, lived in California. She traveled to both places to talk with them to learn about her brother’s journey as a U.S. Army soldier through war-torn Europe and his final hours, and she documented the treasured research for our family history. Here are her words about her oldest brother’s final months at war … by Eula Osborne Randall Lucy.

Italian Campaign
The Italian Campaign was one of the most difficult of World War II, and some of the most difficult battles for foot soldiers were in Italy which was very mountainous with heavy snows in the winter of 1943 and heavy cold rains in the late winter and spring of 1944. The earth turned into a quagmire and foxholes were filled with water. Mud was so deep it was nearly impassable for vehicles as well as men on foot. In the summer of 1944, the ground turned to dust which swirled at the least disturbance. The unit veterans’ most vivid memories of the Italian fighting was the weather and terrain.

Clarence spent 15 months as a First Gunner in a Mortar Squad, part of the American forces who freed the little town of San Pietro in southern Italy from the Germans. From there they battled their way to the Riviera in southern France and on to the northern border of France, plus one day on Germany. He was killed in the last great battle the 36th Division of the 1st Battalion, Company D, 143rd Infantry Regiment of the Texas National Guard.

Clarence’s first battle was December 15, 1943. Starting December 8th, the 36th Division had been trying to take 4,000-foot Mt. Summacro (Hill 1205) so they could liberate the little town of San Pietro at the base of the mountain. Dock Roberts, Clarence’s sergeant, and Roy Goad, Commanding Officer of the 143rd Regiment, were wounded on Hill 1205. San Pietro was at the entrance to the Liri Valley and was heavily fortified by the Germans. It had to be taken by the Allies before they could enter the Liri Valley in the drive to liberate Rome.

The men of the 36th Division had come into Italy after fighting in the deserts of North Africa and were still wearing their summer uniforms. They were not prepared for the bitterest winter Italy had experienced in years. Most had no overcoats, raincoats, or even gloves.

Much of the fighting for Hill 1205 was by climbing, literally hand over hand, straight up the side of the mountain which was very rugged with sharp, jagged rocks. Germans were entrenched on the top, protected by large boulders along the edge of the top of the mountain. When the first Allied soldiers reached the top and surprised them, the Germans started rolling large boulders off the mountain.

San Pietro
The 1st Battalion of the 143rd Infantry Regiment moved on from Hill 1205 to the battle to liberate San Pietro at the bottom. Clarence was a replacement for the 36th Division and entered the fighting on December 15th. The next day they finally succeeded in capturing San Pietro but a high price was paid with 1,100 casualties.

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Challenger 32 Years Later … the Nation Tuned In To See a Teacher In Space

The STS-51L CrewHas it really been 32 years since the Challenger shuttle exploded in mid-air? Seven lives were lost, the tragedy was caught live on TV, and Americans were shocked at the disaster that had taken place in front of their eyes.

Space launches had become so routine to most people by the time Challenger came around that it rarely caused much excitement. Indeed, on that fateful day of January 28, 1986, it was cold and wintry in rural North Carolina, just as it was cold at the site of the launch in Florida. At home with my one-year-old son, I remembered the NASA launch was taking place that morning so turned on the television to see how it was going.

TV cameras scanned the spectator stands at Cape Kennedy where family and friends of the astronauts watched, full of excitement in anticipation of the launch that included Christa McAuliffe who was there as part of the Teacher in Space project. Millions of children across the nation sat in classrooms watching and waiting for the launch with expectations of experiments and lessons during the journey from the teacher in space. One of those students was Brian Schoeneman, Bearing Drift Editor-in-Chief Emeritus (see Remembering the Challenger).

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10:28 a.m. … 9/11: World Trade Center North Tower Collapses

10:28 a.m. North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed 102 minutes after being struck by Flight 11.

LynnRMitchell.com remembers 9/11 … may we never forget.

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10:07 a.m. … 9/11: United Flight 93 goes down

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:13

The heroes of United Flight 93 were ordinary Americans who reacted in extraordinary times. On a hijacked airplane heading toward Washington, D.C., possibly targeting the White House or the Capitol building, and with the knowledge of what had already occurred that morning with the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, passengers took matters into their own hands.

Ordinary citizens became heroes in their attempt to overtake the Muslum terrorists who had pirated the plane, and crashed it into the countryside of southwestern Pennsylvania.

I have written before of my special connection to Flight 93. My sister, a member of the George W. Bush administration, was at work in the White House that day. If Flight 93 had hit Washington as had happened in New York City and Arlington’s Pentagon, our family could have been one of the many mourning a lost one.

On the tenth anniversary of that tragic day, the crash site outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, was formally dedicated as a permanent reminder of the courage and spirit of the Flight 93 heroes. President George W. Bush, in office only nine months when 9/11 happened, unexpectedly became a wartime president that day with a determination to protect the American people. He and Mrs. Bush attended the 2011 commemorative events, met with the families, and took part in the ceremony.

Forty extraordinary Americans … my family will forever be grateful to the men and women of Flight 93 and their families for the heroism and sacrifice made that day.

Flight 93 had heroes on board….

Todd Beamer – “Let’s roll!”
The 32-year-old Oracle Corp. account manager from Cranbury, N.J., was believed to have helped lead a passenger attack on Flight 93 hijackers that prevented the jet from reaching its target, possibly the White House. Beamer spoke to a GTE operator on the plane’s phone. His final words — “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll!” — have become a rallying cry for the war against terrorism. Beamer and his wife, Lisa, had two sons. His daughter, Morgan, was born in January of 2002. Beamer played baseball and basketball in college and loved coaching youth sports. President Bush, in an address to the nation, praised Beamer as “an exceptional man.” Today, the Todd M. Beamer Foundation aims to help kids deal with trauma and learn how to make choices.

Thomas E. Burnett Jr.
Burnett called his wife, Deena, to tell her about the Flight 93 hijacking and said he and other passengers were “going to do something about it.” Burnett, 38, of San Ramon, Calif., was senior vice president and chief operating officer of Thoratec Corp., a medical research and development company. His wife and three daughters moved to Arkansas afterwards to be closer to her parents. The new Thomas Burnett Family Foundation plans to provide endowments for children’s bereavement camps and leadership scholarships at selected universities.

Jeremy Glick
Glick called his wife, Lyz, after terrorists took over Flight 93. She patched the call to a 911 dispatcher, who told Glick about earlier attacks in New York. Glick told his wife some passengers had taken a vote, and “We’re going to rush the hijackers.” Glick, 31, of West Milford, N.J., had been a collegiate judo champion at the University of Rochester. His older sister, Jennifer, is president of Jeremy’s Heroes foundation which is devoted to helping people build character through sports. The foundation has supplied sneakers to kids in Chicago and paid for 20 children in Washington to attend a soccer camp.

LynnRMitchell.com remembers … may we

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9:45 a.m. … 9/11: White House Evacuated

9:45 a.m. The World Trade Center had been attacked an hour earlier when airplanes hijacked by terrorists flew into both towers … Pan Am Flight 77 had flown into the Pentagon … and now United Flight 93 was being followed on radar flying toward Washington, D.C. No one was aware of the struggle going on inside that aircraft as passengers, aware of the earlier terrorism attacks, vowed to storm the cockpit and avoid whatever disaster the terrorist pilots had in mind.

The White House was evacuated at 9:45. Employees were urgently directed by Secret Service to leave the building and, as the evacuation was under way, it was stepped up as shouts told them to get away from the White House and Old Executive Office Building as fast as they could. Women took off their shoes and ran in their stocking feet out the White House grounds and onto the street and down the sidewalk. One of them was my sister.

Flight 93 would go down at 10:06 a.m. taking the brave souls with it who prevented further national tragedy.

LynnRMitchell.com remembers … may we never forget the herorism of those on Flight 93.

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9:03 a.m. … 9/11: South Tower hit

9:03 a.m. New Yorkers and television viewers nationwide watched in horror as a second airplane hit the south tower of the World Trade Center.

LynnRMitchell.com remembers 9/11 … may we never forget.

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8:46 a.m. … 9/11: America is under attack as Plane Flies Into World Trade Center

8:46 a.m. It began with first one tower followed by the second of the World Trade Center hit by commercial airliners. America was under attack.

After pilots and crew members of American Airlines Flight 11 were overpowered by terrorists, the plane crashed into the North Tower. It was the first terrorist act of what would become the worst attacks ever on American soil, a day that would continue to see strikes on our nation three more times as the morning unfolded.

LynnRMitchell.com remembers 9/11 … may we never forget!

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DNA Identifies 1641st Victim of 9/11 Terror Attack on World Trade Center

DNA testing has identified the 1,641st victim of the 9/11 terror attack on the World Trade Center, according to Melissa Quinn at the Washington Examiner. The identity is being withheld out of respect for the family’s request for privacy.

On September 11, 2001, 2,753 were killed when terrorists flew airplanes into the Twin Towers and, 16 years later, there are still 1,112 who remain unidentified.

March 2015 was the last time a victim was identified. As new DNA testing methods are discovered, remains are tested again and again in hopes of bringing closure to families.

The Guardian further explained that the procedure included more sensitive DNA technology used by the medical examiner’s office, with some bone fragments tested over and over, sometimes almost a dozen times, hoping to produce an answer to the identity. Their methods and tenacity are amazing and encouraging, as explained in this expanded description of poring over the remains.

The sixteenth anniversary of the tragic 9/11 attacks is in four weeks, a time when the nation pauses to remember the loss of 3,000 innocent lives on American soil. Never forget.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

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‘The Eyes of the World Are Upon You’ … D-Day 73 Years Later

[Today marks 73 years since the D-Day invasion. A year ago the small community of Bedford, Virginia, commemorated the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord. Here are photos from that day (see also Part 2).]

DSCN1760 (2)“Fifty-seven years ago, America and the nations of Europe formed a bond that has never been broken. And all of us incurred a debt that can never be repaid. Today, as America dedicates our D-Day Memorial, we pray that our country will always be worthy of the courage that delivered us from evil and saved the free world.”
–President George W. Bush (at National D-Day Memorial dedication, June 6, 2001)

Monday, June 6, 2016, was a day for sights and sounds and memories and stories from some of the few remaining veterans who survived June 6, 1944. It was the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord — the allied invasion of Normandy, known as D-Day — that marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

Exiting the four-lane highway in Bedford and turning onto Overlord Drive, it is a quiet drive through open fields up the hill to a place of reverence and thankfulness. Surrounded by the peaceful Virginia countryside with the Blue Ridge Mountains, including Sharp Top and Flat Top mountains that form the Peaks of Otter in the distance, the National D-Day Memorial provides an opportunity to learn and reflect on a pivoting event in America’s — and the world’s — history.

The overwhelming extent of the sacrifices made as well as the huge operation that involved 150,000 Allied troops, 5,000 ships, 11,000 aircraft, and huge losses of more than 9,000 Allied soldier who died, including 2,499 American soldiers, in the largest amphibious landing the world has ever seen, was sobering. The liberation of Europe began that day and, though the war would continue for almost a year longer, the Normandy invasion gave Allied forces an opening to begin working their way across Europe to defeat Hitler.

Thankfully, the vision of D-Day veteran Bob Slaughter to have a national site to remember and honor those involved was achieved, and the National D-Day Memorial was dedicated on June 6th, 2001, by President George W. Bush.

My husband and I arrived early on Monday and stayed into the afternoon — attending the 11am ceremony, strolling the grounds, reading the historical plaques, and listening to the roll call of names. We left with a renewed appreciation for the Greatest Generation. Below are photos that capture a small part of the day. May we never forget.


Why Bedford for the national memorial? As explained in the video, the memorial is a reminder of the extreme sacrifice the small Virginia town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains made during the invasion on June 6, 1946. They lost more men per capita than any other location in America. Of the 30 Bedford soldiers in Company A, 19 perished that day and four others during the war. That sacrifice by the Bedford Boys was the reason their town was chosen as the site for the national memorial. For photos of the memorial’s tribute to the Bedford Boys, see 72 years later … the Bedford Boys.

DSCN1762 (2)

For the first time ever the roll call of the names of the 2,499 Americans killed on D-Day was read by volunteers whose voices could be heard  throughout the memorial’s grounds. The honoring of the fallen continued for three hours into the afternoon with names read by veterans, families, volunteers, and dignitaries.

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Mother’s Day with Barbara and George W. Bush: Then and Now

Happy Mother’s Day to America’s former First Lady.

Barbara Bush with her first-born son, George W. Bush.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush (#Bush41) with son former President George W. Bush (#Bush43).

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On this day in 1775 … ‘Give me liberty, or give me death’

[It has been 242 years since Virginia’s own Patrick Henry issued his “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech at St. John’s Church in Richmond. Remembering that important part of Virginia and American history, I was reminded of 2007 and a special recognition presented from Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. Originally published March 11, 2007.]

In 1775, unrest in America was growing (see background history here). When Delegate Patrick Henry stood up to speak, his words rang out in St. John’s Church but it was the closing lines that most remembered, then and today.

“Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

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David Rockefeller Dies at 101, Family Saved Colonial Williamsburg

David Rockefeller died Monday. He was 101 years old, the grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller Sr., last survivor of John D. Rockefeller Jr’s children, the youngest of his siblings. As heir to the Standard Oil fortune, David Rockefeller was a billionaire who made his way in the world as a banker, a philanthropist, and a patron of the arts with an art collection estimated to be worth $500 million.

John D. Rockefeller’s children and grandchildren were taught that with great wealth comes great responsibility, and over the years numerous projects have been the benefactors of the family’s generosity.

The citizens of Virginia and the nation benefitted greatly from the Rockefeller family’s generous philanthropy that made possible the restoration of a forgotten and run-down Colonial Williamsburg, a premiere living-history museum that is known around the world. The family’s financial support of Williamsburg exceeded $100 million over the years, beginning in the 1920s when David Rockefeller’s father became involved in the restoration and re-creation of this national treasure.

America owes a great deal of gratitude for this influential family’s part in preserving a very important part of our history.

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Grandma’s Wedding Band

My wedding ring along with my grandmother’s thin gold band.

A friend recently lost his grandmother which made my mind drift back to memories of my own grandma who passed away when I was 14 years old. In her 80s, she was the first person to die who was close to me.

Her name was Mollie, and when she was in her late 60s she lost her wedding ring. My mom, who was in her 20s at the time, bought a replacement ring, a thin gold band that was larger than usual to fit over my grandmother’s gnarled fingers and knuckles. They were hard-working hands, hands that had raised 10 children, worked in the farm fields and canned the rewards from those fields; washed, ironed, and cleaned; snapped beans and made dumplings. I was an infant at the time but Grandma said that when she passed on she wanted me, my mom’s oldest child, to have that wedding band.

Engraved inside the thin sliver of gold were their initials, “JFO” for John Francis Osborne, and “MKO” for Mollie Kennedy Osborne, along with the date they were married: August 21, 1904, which was a Sunday.

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