(The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. The archway is the symbol of Project Overlord, codename for the Allied landings in Normandy during World War II. For the 70th anniversary of D-Day next year the memorial administrators will erect on the pathway leading into the memorial a statue of a grieving G.I., in full combat gear, helmet less, one of a mere eight Bedford Boys out of thirty who went ashore who survived the invasion.)
Bedford, Virginia is where the National D-Day Memorial is. It's out of the way in south-central Virginia but it is worth the trip to visit this beautiful tribute to all the Allies who successfully assaulted Fortress Europa on June 6, 1944, the longest day, and struck the death-knell of Nazi Germany thereby.
(At the Bedford Courthouse downtown, next to the Confederate Memorial and across from the Revolutionary War Memorial is this tribute to the Bedford Boys in World War II.)
The memorial is in Bedford because so many Bedford lads were slaughtered on Omaha Beach in so short a time. This tiny town of 3,200 lost 22 of its sons during the Normandy invasion, 19 in the first hour or so of combat on the beach when the landing forces were raked with murderous fire by the Germans commanding the heights behind the beach.
We know how that came out ultimately, the day was won by the courage of the individual American soldiers (and the Canadians and the British on other Normandy assault sites) and the Germans were ultimately defeated. If you want to know how hard a slog it was for the nineteen and twenty-year old boys who carried the brunt of the fighting for the next ten months, you would do well to start with Stephen Ambrose's book Citizen Soldiers.
After I left my rafting and minor league baseball games behind during my driving vacation in West Virginia in August I visited Bedford, to honor the sacrifice of The Greatest Generation. The memorial is a poignant reminder of the ultimate price of freedom.