D-DAY - BEDFORD, VA (2001)

By Jug Varner

Bedford, Virginia, with a population of only 3,200 in 1944, was the home of Army Company A, 116th Infantry Regiment, whose members (shown above) participated in WWII Operation Overlord (on D-Day, June 6, 1944). Of the regiment's 170 soldiers who went ashore in the first assault wave, 91 died, 64 were wounded, and only 15 were able to continue fighting. Of 35 Bedford soldiers, 19 died in the invasion's first fifteen minutes and two more died later that day.

Historians say the 21 deaths from the Town of Bedford were the highest per-capita loss from any single community in our country. Recognizing the sacrifice of families and communities across the United States, the home of the highest per-capita loss is a fitting location for the tribute to more than 6,000 Americans killed along the Normandy coast on that fateful day.

Artist's rendering of the Overlord Arch and plaza
of the National D-Day Memorial, scheduled for
dedication at Bedford on D-Day's 57th anniversary,
June 6, 2001.

Several thousand veterans, families and friends arrived at the 88-acre hilltop site near Bedford on May 28, 2000, to participate in the unveiling of the partially completed National D-Day Memorial - some two and one-half years after groundbreaking. Plans for the dedication of the completed Memorial Complex, including the Overlord monument and plaza, education center, amphitheater and ten sculptures, are set for June 6, 2001. The Education Center that will serve as an international repository for materials and literature related to D-Day and provide space for permanent and temporary exhibits.

The National D-Day Memorial Foundation is a group of veterans and volunteers organized as a 501©(3) non-profit corporation and warranted by the U.S. Congress to build and maintain a memorial to Allied Forces who invaded the Normandy coast of France on June 6, 1944. It is charged with the design, construction and operation of the memorial provide a place of reverence and solemnity honoring those who sacrificed so much. It is committed to educating citizens of the world, especially young people, about the scope of the invasion; the role of individual American service men and women; the sacrifices made by the families and communities on the home front; and the critical importance and significance of D-Day.

The site is adjacent to the intersection of Virginia 122 and U.S. 460 bypass in the City of Bedford (in Southwest Virginia, approximately 25 miles east of Roanoke and 25 miles west of Lynchburg).