On June 6, 1944, soldiers from the United States Army 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, landed on a beach in Normandy, France code-named “Omaha.” Around 34 of these soldiers hailed from a small town in southern Virginia called Bedford. By the day’s end, 19 of them were dead.
Bedford, Virginia suffered the highest per capita death rate of soldiers on D-Day. Four more “Bedford Boys” died later during the Normandy campaign. This tremendous loss gripped the nation, and Congress designated Bedford as the site of the National D-Day Memorial.
The memorial was dedicated on June 6, 2001. As visitors walk up Gray Plaza, they’ll pass statues identical to those along the hallowed beaches in France. A giant Overlord Arch leads visitors to the Memorial Wall, where names of all the soldiers killed on D-Day are listed.
This memorial is the perfect place to take a moment and honor World War II soldiers who died during the conflict.
Know Before You Go
The National D-Day Memorial sits in a town near the Blue Ridge Mountains with a population of fewer than 7,000 people: Bedford, Virginia.
Bedford is about 40 minutes east of Roanoke, Virginia, and about 30 minutes west of Lynchburg, Virginia. Many sites within the town are also dedicated to telling the story of the soldiers from Bedford. If you wish to read more about soldiers and learn about their experiences, Alex Kershaw's The Bedford Boys is a good resource.