D-Day is what it’s called – that day in 1944, when American troops hit the beach in France for perhaps the most pivotal battle of the long conflict. The story of the battle is told at the National D-Day Memorial in the little town of Bedford, VA. The 88-acre site is designed to take visitors on an archival walk through World War II, including the politics and perils of that time period. And this meaningful monument is located less than hour’s drive from Steeles Tavern Manor B&B and Alpine Hideaway Cottages.
The Memorial recognizes the international, allied services that worked together toward victory over tyranny that day. On the monument is a quote that states: “In Tribute to the valor, fidelity and sacrifice of Allied Forces on D-Day, June 6, 1944”. This National Memorial was dedicated on June 6, 2001 with a speech from then-president George W. Bush and with 15,000 other people present. It’s location in Bedford, near the Blue Ridge Mountains, has special meaning.
In 1944, the population of Bedford was about 3,200 people and 34 of those resident soldiers were part of what became to be known as “The Bedford Boys”. Nineteen of the 34 were killed on the first day of the invasion; four more died during the Normandy battle. The small town in Virginia had lost more men – proportionately – than any other city in America. The heavy loss was the inspiration for placing the memorial in Bedford, VA. Alex Kershaw wrote a best-selling book titled The Bedford Boys which was also the inspiration for the movie Saving Private Ryan.
The memorial began with an idea from Bob Slaughter, a World War II veteran. His idea was to erect a statue of a GI in Richmond to honor Virginia D-Day vets. Slaughter’s effort was caught-up in the 50th Anniversary excitement and ballooned into a huge project. Beginning at the back of the 88 acres, tourists will see a statue of Gen. “Ike” Eisenhower with statues of Allied politicians of the time nearby. These notable men include Churchill, FDR, and Charles de Gaulle. Located in the center of the memorial is a recreation of the beach itself. Water features splash like the ocean front and bronze statues of men on the move are included as action scenes.
As a backdrop for the “beach”, a wall is inscribed with the name of all 4,413 Allied soldiers who died in the invasion. The center arch of the memorial stands 44’6” tall with the word “Overlord” inscribed across the top. Overlord was the code name for the invasion of Normandy.
The National D-Day Memorial site hosts special events throughout the year and summer camps for young students. The Jefferson Choral Society and the Let’s Dance Band” will perform the 2017 Stars and Stripes Forever Patriotic Concert on Friday May 26th, 2017 at 7:00pm. Bring a lawn chair to enjoy this special concert. Other special commemorations will held on Memorial Day (May 29, 2017) and of course, D-Day – June 6, 2017 – the 73rd Anniversary of D-Day.
Make your reservation today for a trip to visit the informative and humbling National D-Day Memorial.