In just a week, the anniversary of one of the most well-known battles of World War II will be upon us; the Allied Invasion of Normandy or as it is more commonly known, D-Day. June 6th will mark the 69th anniversary of this bloody and game changing battle. With this anniversary quickly approaching, now is the time to visit the National D-Day Memorial. Located in Bedford, Virginia, it is just a short 30 miles from Lynchburg.
The Memorial was built to honor those who lost their life in one of the most important battles of the War. Officially opened on June 6, 2001 after a dedication by President George W Bush, the more than 9,000 Allied soldiers who were wounded or lost their lives were remembered. Bedford was chosen as the site of the memorial in recognition of the nineteen Bedford soldiers who died on June 6, 1944, along with four others who gave their lives in the Normandy campaign. The population of Bedford was only about 3,200 in 1944, therefore it suffered the worst D-Day losses proportionally to the rest of the country.
The National D-Day Memorial is located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is 88 acres in size. The main focal point of the memorial is a large arch with “Overlord” etched upon it; overlord was the name given to the mission on that fateful day. The site is open daily from 10am to 5pm and admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children (under 6 are free). Walking tours are also available for an additional $2 per person.
In honor of the 69th anniversary of D-Day, the memorial will be hosting a ceremony with music and speakers, admission will also be free until noon. There will also be some special events held in honor of Memorial Day. On Saturday, May 25th, the memorial will be opened at night. Beginning at 7pm, there will be performances by Let’s Dance (playing musical selections from the 1940’s) and from the Jefferson Choral Society. Tickets for this event are already on sale and are $5 in advance and $8 at the door. On Monday, May 27th there will be a Brick Dedication Ceremony at 11am. Blue and gold star bricks will be dedicated to honor the memory to those who served. Admission will be free until 12pm.
Called emotional and moving by visitors, it is a must see. With the anniversary of D-Day upon us, there is no better time to recognize those from the “Greatest Generation” who lost their lives protecting our country.