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© Richard Knight
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

[The National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, Virginia]

My mother resides in Virginia and, on a recent visit there, she asked me if I would take her to the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. I was more than happy to take her.

On June 6, 1944 – D-Day – the Allies opened the Western Front by landing on the Normandy Coast of France. By the end of the day, thousands of Americans had been killed or wounded.

Two years earlier, 30 young men from the tiny town of Bedford, Virginia (pop. 3,200) entered the army and were assigned to “A” Company of the 116th Infantry Regiment. Some were still in their teens; the others were in their twenties. These were the “Bedford Boys.”

But now it was D-Day, and the Bedford Boys were among the first wave of soldiers to land on Omaha Beach, which was fiercely defended by an enemy entrenched in the cliffs above.

As the ramp of their landing craft dropped, the Boys came under an intense fire. Some were hit immediately, others were hit in the water, and a handful scrambled onto the beach. By the end of the day, 19 of the Boys lay dead or dying. (Three others would die later.)

My mother – who is almost 90 – was working in Danville, Virginia at the time, not too far from Bedford. She remembers the radio broadcasts and remembers hearing that an unthinkable tragedy had befallen Bedford.

In Bedford, the town's telegraph operators could not, at first, believe what was coming in over the wire. But as the death toll began to mount, one name at a time, it became all too apparent that the reports were true. Bedford, Virginia reeled in grief. So did the Nation.

Even now, almost 70 years later, it is difficult to comprehend the scope of this tragedy. Nineteen young men killed in one day in a town of 3,200!

Bedford, Virginia lost more soldiers (per capita) than any other American community during World War II.

Today, as you drive down Bedford’s main street, you see the small framed houses with the “gold stars” in the windows. You find yourself trying to imagine what it must have been like as the terrible news unfolded.

We remember those young boys, their families, and their resilient little town, with everlasting gratitude.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

35 responses

  • jaume morera guixa

    jaume morera guixa gave props (8 Nov 2013):

    Sad and painful reality should never happen. Humans never leam the leson. We are species to extinction

  • MªTeresa Barreda Royo

    MªTeresa Barreda Royo gave props (8 Nov 2013):

    Impactante y dolorosa historia. Preciosa fotografia

  • Thad Zajdowicz

    Thad Zajdowicz gave props (8 Nov 2013):

    Powerful photo and story, Richard -- thanks for posting.

  • Geoff Plant

    Geoff Plant gave props (8 Nov 2013):

    ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL CAPTURE. our thoughts and prayers will be with all on sunday as the Rememberance services will be taking place all over the world

  • Donald Garrett

    Donald Garrett gave props (8 Nov 2013):

    Such a poignant and heart-wrenching story. I have been through Bedford so many times on the way to the in-laws in Lynchburg. Will have to go back and see this memorial (and make the obligatory trip to the Elks National Home to see the Christmas decorations!)

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain gave props (8 Nov 2013):

    such a sad narration...our prayers are with you..

  • Fred Moskey

    Fred Moskey gave props (8 Nov 2013):

    I spent several days in Bedford a couple of years ago, when I visited the D-Day Memorial it was difficult to take photos for the tears in my eyes. "Where did we find such men?"

  • Susan Littlefield

    Susan Littlefield gave props (8 Nov 2013):

    A lovely photo and tribute to Veterans everywhere.

  • Sharon Sikes

    Sharon Sikes gave props (8 Nov 2013):

    Thanks for sharing, and thanks to all Veterans!

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (8 Nov 2013):

    Informative narrative and image...May there be peace in the world.

  • diana a

    diana a   gave props (9 Nov 2013):

    a proud Thank You for their sacrifice...

  • Betty Maxey

    Betty Maxey   gave props (9 Nov 2013):

    I always enjoy your narratives!! You have a way with words!!! Such a sad story!! ( I always think of Sam, and it always makes me cry) Thank you for your service to our country to Cuz!!! Makes a gal proud, and humble, and thankful!

  • elfriede fulda

    elfriede fulda (Deleted) gave props (10 Nov 2013):

    This is a lovely tribute to the veterans, we have our "Remembrance Day ".Very interesting read, very sad times.

  • Michele Wambaugh

    Michele Wambaugh (Deleted) gave props (10 Nov 2013):

    Wonderful tribute, Richard!

  • Heather Mellon

    Heather Mellon gave props (10 Nov 2013):

    A beautiful tribute to this community who lost so many to the war effort.. these young men were truly heroic!!

  • Patty Gross

    Patty Gross (Deleted) gave props (10 Nov 2013):

    So sad that so many young souls from such a tiny community as Bedford, VA, lost their lives fighting to keep America free. Tomorrow we will honor all our brave veterans for the unbelievable sacrifices they made so we could be free. And may God bless all active duty military everywhere, American and allied troops. Cannot stop crying....

  • Hilda Cox

    Hilda Cox gave props (10 Nov 2013):

    wonderful tribute !!!! super job

  • John Tanner

    John Tanner said (10 Nov 2013):

    An outstanding photograph and a great narration.
    This is what our young people should be learing in their American history classes.
    How sad and unnecessary it is that so many people have no idea what our great country sacrificed to liberate the world.
    Not just America but the entire world owes the American service men and women of WW-2 a debt of gratitude and respect that is impossible to pay.

    Thank you Richard my good friend for reminding us who are true heros are and all they sacrificed for humanity.
    Excellent work and it's my sincere hope that every member of this site will see this and take it to heart !

  • Fred Moskey

    Fred Moskey said (11 Nov 2013):

    On 6 June 1944 I was eight years old and living in Virginia. A lot of these men were our Virginia National Guard troops, our protectors from our state. They were there so I could grow up free from the terror that had been spread around the world. Their mission was successful, but a lot of them lost their lives in the process. I will be forever thankful for what they did that day and throughout the war. I just hope that in some small way I have helped to repay what they did for me and the country! God bless those "Bedford Boys"!

  • Richard Knight

    Richard Knight said (11 Nov 2013):

    Thank you, Fred, and everyone, for your moving comments. I appreciate them very much.

  • Tiia Vissak

    Tiia Vissak gave props (11 Nov 2013):

    a sad story but a great image!

  • Barbara Kurth

    Barbara Kurth said (11 Nov 2013):

    What a beautiful tribute. Beautiful photo.

  • Judy and Wayne Wanamaker

    Judy and Wayne Wanamaker gave props (12 Nov 2013):

    What an amazing story of courage and valor. It is a sad example of the losses of brave American servicemen it has cost to maintain the freedom that is so unique to the USA. I am so thankful for what they have given to us as they gave their last full measure of devotion. They must have a special place in Heaven.

  • Judy and Wayne Wanamaker

    Judy and Wayne Wanamaker gave props (12 Nov 2013):

    The Veterans' Day entry of Richard Knight. He relates the history of a town who suffered major loss.

  • Carlo Pagan

    Carlo Pagan gave props (12 Nov 2013):

    GREAT TRIBUTE!!! Excellent!!

  • Ken O'Brien

    Ken O'Brien gave props (13 Nov 2013):


  • Donna Mullins

    Donna Mullins (Deleted) gave props (13 Nov 2013):

    Powerful narrative and images Richard!

  • Deborah Downes

    Deborah Downes gave props (14 Nov 2013):

    Powerful story; deeply moving tribute.

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (14 Nov 2013):

    a great tribute to the nation and a great appreciation for you relieving this important event. As always, you are a great narrative writer! I hope your mom is doing well.

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (14 Nov 2013):

    A superb remembrance Dick, very touching and poignant.Thank You!

  • Leslie Hunziker

    Leslie Hunziker   gave props (14 Nov 2013):

    how devastating this must have been for the families of these young, brave men!! Thank you for the history of this, Richard. Wonderful tribute to these men.

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper gave props (15 Nov 2013):

    Tears streaming.

  • Nancy Richard

    Nancy Richard gave props (19 Nov 2013):

    Wonderful tribute !

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