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The National D-Day Memorial; Bedford; Virginia; USA; WW II; greatest generation; invasion; d-day; memorial; monument; military; tribute; historic; warfare; travel; Blue Ridge MountainsThe National D-Day Memorial

 

            It’s moving, poignant and solemn. The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia is touching for veterans of any era, but especially so for WWII veterans and their families. Patriots, even those who never served, find this memorial deeply touching.

 

            D-Day, June 6, 1944, the United States and Allied Troops conducted the largest amphibious assault in history. Many of those troops never returned home. The town of Bedford, Virginia suffered the largest per capita loss of her sons on that day; more than any other town in the United States. Thus it is fitting the National D-Day Memorial be located in Bedford. Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, the memorial stands as a permanent monument to theThe National D-Day Memorial; Bedford; Virginia; USA; WW II; greatest generation; invasion; d-day; memorial; monument; military; tribute; historic; warfare; travel; Blue Ridge Mountains; Invasion Plaza heroes of that amazing amphibious assault.

 

            More than 150,000 Allied Troops landed on a five-mile-long stretch of heavily-fortified beach in Normandy, France on that fateful Tuesday morning. The invasion involved 5,000 ships with 11,000 support aircraft. D-Day marked the turning point of the war, but the cost was heavy—more than 9,000 troops were killed or wounded that day. Company A of the 116th Infantry National Guard, with roots stretching back to the “Stonewall Brigade” in the Civil War, included 30 “Bedford Boys” on that morning as the unit made its assault on Omaha Beach. By day’s end 19 of them would be dead. Another from Company F died that day, bring Bedford’s total to 20 lost sons on D-Day. Two more died later of wounds suffered that day.

 

            D-Day was a pivotal point in WWII. The Allies gained a foothold in Europe. War momentum shifted. It marked the beginning of Hitler’s defeat; his “Atlantic Wall” was breached. The National D-Day Memorial honors those who participated in the invasion—those who lived to fight another day and those who gave their lives for the cause of freedom, never to see their homes and families again.

 

            The National D-Day Memorial; Bedford; Virginia; USA; WW II; greatest generation; invasion; d-day; memorial; monument; military; tribute; historic; warfare; travel; Blue Ridge Mountains; Invasion PlazaThe National D-Day Memorial was dedicated by President George W. Bush on June 6, 2001. Covering 50 acres at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the memorial hosts an average of 60,000 visitors each year.

 

            “Overlord” was the code-name assigned to the D-Day operation. At the center of the memorial stands a 44 and ½ foot-tall arch engraved with the word “Overlord.” The arch is highlighted by a reflecting pool, symbolic of the beach where the troops landed. Though a national memorial authorized by Congress, the National D-Day Memorial is not state or federally funded. The site is operated and maintained by the non-profit National D-Day Memorial Foundation.

 

            The names of those who died on D-Day are inscribed on bronze tablets surrounding the Elmon T. Gray Plaza. The plaza section of the memorial also containsThe National D-Day Memorial; Bedford; Virginia; USA; WW II; greatest generation; invasion; d-day; memorial; monument; military; tribute; historic; warfare; travel; Blue Ridge Mountains; Bradley bust sculptures of soldiers landing on the beach and scaling the seaside cliffs. The plaza floor is divided into five segments in honor of the five landing beaches on the Normandy Coast: Sword, Utah, Gold, Juno and Omaha. Victory Plaza features this dedicatory inscription: “In tribute to the valor, fidelity and sacrifice of the Allied Forces on D-Day 6 June 1944.

 

            One should allow at least two hours when visiting the memorial, though one could easily spend the entire day. The memorial is open daily 10 AM – 5 PM, with the exception of Mondays December - February, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. A 50-minute guided tour is available (10 AM – 4 PM) for those who would like a guided tour. We recommend taking the guided tour to get the most information, then use the map provided with your ticket purchase to explore on your own. Visiting the memorial is both an educational and emotional experience

If You Go:

National D-Day Memorial

PO Box 77

Bedford, VA 24523

Phone: 800-351-DDAY

E-mail: dday@dday.org

Web: www.dday.org  

 

 

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