The Final Salute

Bedford commemorates 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Photo courtesy of National D-Day Memorial Foundation

On June 6, 1944, 34 Virginia National Guard soldiers from the town of Bedford joined more than 156,000 troops in the landing on Normandy. At the end of the first day, 19 of them were dead, and four more died during the remainder of the campaign. Proportionally, Bedford suffered the nation’s severest D-Day losses—a devastating blow to the community of just 3,200. 

The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford will commemorate this year’s 75th anniversary of the largest seaborne invasion ever by paying tribute not just to the town’s lost sons, but all 37,000 who lost their lives that day. “The Final Salute,” the six-day event comprising exhibits, ceremonies, a parade, and more, is expected to be the last large gathering of D-Day veterans from around the globe, the youngest of whom are in their 90s. 

“The 75th anniversary of D-Day is our last, best opportunity to personally thank the veterans of that day and of World War II,” says Angela Hatcher Lynch, associate director of marketing with the National D-Day Memorial Foundation. “It is our opportunity to show them that we will continue to honor their bravery and sacrifice, in both word and deed, for generations to come. The National D-Day Memorial Foundation and the community of Bedford will host an event worthy of these heroes.” 

Encompassing 88 acres at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the memorial was dedicated in 2001 with 24,000 guests in attendance, including then-President George W. Bush. At its center stands a 44-foot-tall arch embellished by the word “Overlord,” the military name given to the crucial operation. Since its opening, the memorial has received an average of 60,000 visitors from around the world each year. DDay.org


This article originally appeared in our June 2019 issue.

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