Today’s trip was to the National D-Day Memorial. I’ve driven by Bedford, VA several times over the last 2 years on I81 and I’ve wondered why there is a National D-Day Museum in western Virginia. It turns out that Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York National Guard units made up the bulk of the 29th Infantry Division that landed on Omaha Beach. Virginia alone contributed 11 companies of soldiers. Bedford’s Company A of the 116th Infantry Regiment was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division for the D-Day landings. Company A had 30 boys (the Bedford Boys) who actually lived in Bedford and by the end of the D-Day, 19 had been killed which was proportionately the largest loss of any community in America. Congress recognized Bedford’s sacrifice with the authorization for the National D-Day Museum in 1997.
One of the more interesting pieces of the memorial is a replica of a French statue, Le Monument aux Morts located in Trevieres, France (Normandy) to commemorate some 44 men of the town who died in WWI. During the Normandy invasion the statue was hit by artillery fire taking most of the face from the statue. The original as well as the re-casted version at the Memorial was left damaged as “a testament of the destructiveness of war, evanescence of victory, and fragility of peace.” The statue was a gift from the Guy Wildenstein family in gratitude to the US for freeing France, providing asylum for his parents, and for halting the extermination of the Jews in Europe.
Before we went to the Memorial we had lunch in Bedford at the Artisans Café. It was pretty good. On the way back to the car, Sue was dragged into an antique/collectible/second hand consignment mall by the owner. She has a Delaware connection. She spent 2 years living in New Castle while her then 17 year old daughter was treated for cancer at AI du Pont Hospital. Unfortunately, the daughter died. She moved back to Virginia and bought the antique mall from her mother-in-law who wanted to retire. When we got back to Winnie we turned on the TV to watch the news and the women that we talked to was being interviewed on TV about activities planned for this weekend in Bedford.
We also added a Roadside America attraction (Big Apple on a Stick) to our list. The Rhino family is not on the list, but I'm going to send it in to be included.