America's National D-Day Memorial
When D-Day comes around again on June 6 to recollect the multination invasion of Normandy, France, think a moment: Where is America's National D-Day Memorial found? Washington, D.C.? Nope.
It's in Bedford, Va., not far from better-known Lynchburg. And for good reason.
On June 6, 1944, Bedford lost a greater percentage of its population on the beaches of Normandy than any other municipality in the United States. Perhaps a reason that you know little about it is that the National D–Day Memorial was not built by the federal government, which promotes only its own. This monument, built through private donations, really puts federal monuments to shame.
The monument was completed in 2001, opened on June 6, of course, with 88 acres of natural beauty and man-made memorial items. It is a phenomenal presentation of full-sized bronze soldiers storming out of a full-sized bronze landing craft, rushing across water that leaps in spots simulating “rifle fire” from the top of the wall, which more soldiers climb.
The entrance is a massive rectangular arch displaying the flags of the 12 nations involved in landing in France against German opposing cannon, machine gun and rifle fire. Many of the Bedford Boys led the charge and remain in French cemeteries with American flags, tenderly cared for by the French who have not forgotten.
Other displays at the D-Day Memorial in Bedford include an observer's single-engine airplane and a very large, long flower garden planted with colors that matched the Operation Overlord invasion arm patch worn by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and his soldiers of many nations.
There also is a walkway flanked by 4-foot-tall pedestals atop which you see bronze busts of the key Allied generals and civilians who directed the invasion.
Of course, there is a souvenir shop complete with reprints of newspapers of June 7, the day after, blazing the story of the landings.
Along the walls bronze plaques describe actions on D-Day, including those of many nationals of different countries united to overthrow the Nazis.
It stands among the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia. It's easy to find but it's a long ride from Western Pennsylvania. Drive east and connect with Interstate 81, then south to Buchanan (exit 167) and east on Va. 43 to Bedford. It's a nice drive over the mountain. Local signs will direct you.
See the history and much more online — enter National D-Day Memorial Bedford to get a half-dozen good selections.
The best days to visit are anytime but on Memorial Day and D-Day the greatest pageantry is presented.
John Lenkey III lives on Pittsburgh's North Side and has taken many foreign visitors to visit the site.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Offense awakens to lead Steelers past Panthers
- Peduto’s first budget proposal seeks to increase property tax rate
- Civil rights organization urges developer to scrap hotel plan for August Wilson Center
- Steelers notebook: Rooney says owners support Goodell
- Rossi: State of NFL gives Steelers a chance
- Game changers: Turnover leads to elusive TD for Steelers
- Coal gathering opens with dour assessment, political vitriol
- Pirates notebook: Bucs set single-season attendance record
- Corbett confident state trooper ambush suspect will be caught
- Inside the glass: Penguins’ Martin, Ehrhoff look comfortable together
- Penguins forward Megna’s skill set might be perfect fit