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80th anniversary of D-Day at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia

I’m fortunate to live a short drive from Bedford, Virginia, home of the National D-Day Memorial located there. The Bedford community lost proportionately more men on that day than any other community. Company ‘A’ had a mortality rate of 92%. Most of them lost their lives in the first 9 minutes of the battle. They landed on Omaha Beach. They had been preparing for that day in England for two years.

They have several events today and in the coming days. I took a chance and drove to the visitors center. Without a special 80th anniversary pass you couldn’t drive to the actual Memorial location. Luckily I have an electric car and there were 2 spots available to charge in an otherwise full parking lot in the visitor center. I grabbed one and started charging my car. The volunteers at the visitors center said the event had started and you couldn’t even walk to it.

I decided to see how far I could walk, and a few police officers said you could walk up the road, no problem, just watch out for traffic. You can see the top of the Memorial at the top of the hill, with the ‘Operation Overlord’ arch at the top of the hill.

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I was able to get close enough to see the procedure. There were several speakers who told stories of survivors from that day. You can imagine what it must have been like for those soldiers. They had several flyovers of WWII aircraft, I witnessed the Spitfire, P-51 and the T-6 flyover. The latter was especially poignant because the planes flew in the “missing man” formation, an air salute commemorating the lives of soldiers killed in combat.

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Dark clouds were gathering and I left shortly after the last overpass so I could walk back before all the cars and buses clogged the driveway.

Another place to visit is in the center of Bedford, a museum dedicated to the Bedford Boys of Company A who were killed that day. Bedford Boys Tribute Centre it’s worth it. Many of the Bedford boys’ personal belongings, donated by family members. I traveled here a day earlier. You can actually see the teletypewriter where news of the losses poured in. The volunteers there will tell you personal stories. They provided a wreath for today’s service.

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We must honor their sacrifice (over 4,000 people (Allied/American)) lost their lives that day. Participate in this democracy. Please volunteer as best you can, as often as you can. I personally write swing state postcards, do research and help organize meet and greets. They have given everything and we can’t let it slip away.

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