Tag Archives: National D-Day Memorial

‘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.

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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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Part 2: Bedford D-Day Memorial remembers, reads names of those lost June 6, 1944

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“The eyes of the world are upon you … free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.” –General Dwight Eisenhower (Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe on the eve of Operation Overlord)

See Part 1: Remembering D-Day 72 years later for more photos of the June 6, 2016, D-Day commemoration at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. Below are more pictures from Monday’s event.
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“This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever occurred.” –British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

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Part 1: Remembering D-Day 72 years later

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.

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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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Members from the French Embassy were there to award France’s highest decoration, the Legion d’Honneur is France’s highest decoration,  to a Frenchman who was liberated with his family because of the D-Day invasion. Decades later he moved to America only to see there were no commemorations like were held in his country to honor the men who were part of that liberation, and so he began working with them. Now a Roanoke resident, he has continued to honor and serve the vets as they grow older. After many American soldiers received the Legion d’Honneur throughout the years, he is the latest recipient. See his entire story by reporter Matt Chittum in the Roanoke Times.

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D-Day veteran Norword Thomas of the 101st Airborne. It was amazing to hear his remarks about that day.

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DSCN1882 (2)The future looked to the past as World War II veterans were recognized and thanked.

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DSCN1889 (2)We sat in front of the names of these brave Allied soldiers.

DSCN1890 (2)Patriotism is expressed in many ways.

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“The Bedford Boys” statue.

See more photos from Jill Nance with the News and Advance.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Bedford, Virginia
June 6, 2016

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72 years later … the Bedford Boys

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“Bedford Boys”

Monday was a sobering experience as hundreds gathered at the National D-Day Memorial to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord aka D-Day. This statue 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, with the loss of more men per population than any other location in America. Of the 30 men in Company A, 19 perished. That sacrifice by the Bedford Boys was the reason their town was chosen as the site for the national memorial.

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70 years after Operation Overlord … D-Day 1944

D Day bannerBy Lynn R. Mitchell

Today marks the 70th anniversary of Operation Overlord, known to many as D-Day. The invasion that marked the turning point of World War II began in the early hours of June 6, 1944, when more than 1,200 airplanes provided airborne assault as 5,000 sea vessels took part in landing troops on the beaches of Normandy. It remains the largest amphibious landing in history involving 160,000 troops. More than 9,000 Allied troops were killed or wounded.

The sacrifices of so many helped secure the freedoms of countless. How many will keep the observance alive even as the Greatest Generation dies off and the memories fade?

One family’s wordsmith kept the memory of sacrifice and loss alive after penning a Memorial Day column some years ago. Lee Wolverton, then publisher and editor of the Waynesboro News-Virginian, remembered his grandfather who had given the ultimate sacrifice on D-Day when he parachuted in over enemy territory.

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