Roaming Roanoke: National D-Day Memorial
For this edition of Roaming Roanoke we visited a site dedicated to history and memorial to those who gave all – the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford.
My paternal grandfather was on the first wave onto Utah Beach on D-Day, June 6th, 1944. He survived. He died when I was a baby so I never got to hear him tell his stories from that day. I’ve always wanted to visit the D-Day Memorial in Bedford. On the recent D-Day anniversary, we decided it was the best time to go to the memorial.
The National D-Day Memorial describes D-Day, the World War II Allied Forces invasion into Normandy beaches in France on June 6th, 1944, as one of the largest battles in history. The National D-Day Memorial website says the following.
“Overlord was the largest air, land, and sea operation undertaken before or since June 6, 1944. The landing included over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes, and over 150,000 service men. After years of meticulous planning and seemingly endless training, for the Allied Forces, it all came down to this: The boat ramp goes down, then jump, swim, run, and crawl to the cliffs. Many of the first young men (most not yet 20 years old) entered the surf carrying eighty pounds of equipment. They faced over 200 yards of beach before reaching the first natural feature offering any protection. Blanketed by small-arms fire and bracketed by artillery, they found themselves in hell. When it was over, the Allied Forces had suffered nearly 10,000 casualties; more than 4,000 were dead. Yet somehow, due to planning and preparation, and due to the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of the Allied Forces, Fortress Europe had been breached.” (information and quote from https://www.dday.org/overview/)
The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford is more than 50 acres. It honors those who lost their lives that day and pays tribute to the men and women who played integral parts in planning and fighting in the battle. It has statues of those involved, monuments portraying the beaches and battle, and other plaques and monuments teaching the history of that day. The monument is in Bedford because the town’s populations suffered the most severe losses related to the battle.
The National D-Day Memorial is designed for all ages. My young children, ages 6, 5, and 2, all enjoyed their time at the monument and understood it recognized a World War II battle and the losses as a result. It was very educational for my 6 and 5 year olds to learn about that historic day and our family’s connection to it as well. We read plaques aloud, learned what the monuments portrayed, and even talked to some veterans there on the D-Day anniversary. We also watched the video documentary on the monument’s history in Bedford.
It was a hot day when we were there but no one complained. The memorial is appropriate for all ages. There are bathrooms on site and plenty of parking. There is even a dog kennel. We had our dog with us, and he seemed to enjoy his stay in the air-conditioned kennel while we visited the memorial. You can also take tours that provide more of the history. We did not do this because I was not sure if my young kids would handle it and did not want to distract from others. I would recommend the tour for older children and adults. There are also upcoming day camps for kids. You can find all of the information on visiting, tours, camps, and other events on the website, https://www.dday.org
The National D-Day Memorial does require tickets. Prices vary but if purchased online, they are $10 for adults, $6 for students age 6-18, and $8 for veterans. Younger children are free. Tickets cost slightly more if you buy them at the entrance.
I am so glad we finally made it to see the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford. We learned a lot of history that day, paid respects to those who lost their lives, and honored those in the “greatest generation” who survived the war. The National D-Day Memorial is a great day trip for history lovers, those with family connections to World War II, and those who want to honor the men and women who lost their lives on D-Day.
If you have a place or event for Roaming Roanoke to visit, please let me know!
More Roaming Roanoke
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- Roaming Roanoke: Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest
- Roaming Roanoke – Mill Mountain Zoo at the Library
- Roaming Roanoke: National D-Day Memorial
- Roaming Roanoke: The Dilly Dally
- Roaming Roanoke: The Jefferson Center