A VISIT TO THE NATIONAL D-DAY MEMORIAL
On June 6, 1944, forty-four members of a small town in southwest Virginia participated in Operation Overlord. Thirty-Seven were members of Company A 116th Regiment 29th Division of the United States Army. Twenty boys from Bedford, Virginia lost their lives storming the beaches of Normandy, nineteen died on the first day. The statue pictured here is titled "Homage" and is emblematic of the feeling of loss which every community in the nation feels when one of its boys does not come home from war.
At the entrance to the avenue stands a macabre statue named, Le Monument aux Morts donated by the citizens of France depicting a faceless warring angel of death.
Inside the arch is Final Tribute, a statue of a battle grave of a fallen soldier and the seal depicting the nations involved in the invasion.
The Latin inscription: Ad commemorandum fortitudinem, fidelitatem, sacrificumeorum means "Remembering their valor, fidelity and sacrifice.
Beyond the memorial wall is a flower adorned garden which is surrounded by the busts of the principle commanders of the invasion.
Surrounding the garden are crepe myrtles which were in full bloom. Using them to frame the distant Sharp Top Mountain, I unexpectedly captured the head and shoulders of the Homage statue, which makes it seems for the moment that one of the Bedford Boys has returned home.
On the hand of the soldier is a gold wedding ring which was donated by a widow of one of the Bedford Boys. For me this statue completed the memorial. The ultimate sacrifice, the life ended too soon, the family devastated, the courage, the horror, the pride...all these feelings illustrated by this simple ring.
Go and visit this place. Take a young person with you. Tell them of those you know who were part of the Greatest Generation. Make them marvel with you of what men they were. And make sure we kindle within the soul of this country the courage, the commitment, and love for our fellow man, that we are willing to make this sacrifice again if required.
"God, Almighty, in a few short hours we shall be in battle with the enemy. We do not join this battle afraid. We ask not for favor or indulgence, but ask, if You will, use us as an instrument for right and aid in returning peace to the world."
Lt. Col. Robert Wolverton