Thumbs up to all the staff members of the National D-Day Memorial, volunteers and Bedford County and Central Virginia residents who came together to stage the memorial’s 75th anniversary salute to the D-Day soldiers earlier this week. It was a smashing success, with visitors from all over the country and the world coming to Bedford to pay homage to troops who fought on beaches of Normandy, spearheading the invasion of Nazi-controlled Europe in World War II.
It’s fairly safe to say that the planning for Thursday’s ceremony was years in the making. From lining up WWII vintage aircraft to speakers and military honors, though, it’s obviously been a labor of love for the memorial staff and the residents of Bedford, which lost 19 of its own on the first day of the invasion in 1944. Topping of the day was the addition of the keynote speaker, Vice President Mike Pence.
The 75th anniversary ceremony brings to mind the June 6, 2001, dedication of the memorial, complete with a visit by then-President George W. Bush. The only difference, though, is that, sadly, far fewer D-Day and WWII veterans were on hand to take part today than 18 years ago.
You see, of the more than 16 million Americans who served in WWII, the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates fewer than 500,000 are with us today. They’re dying at a rate of 362 per day. The VA estimates that the last of the WWII veterans will pass away in 2044, 99 years after the D-Day invasion. (By way of comparison with World War I, Frank Buckles was the last American WWI veteran, dying in 2011.)
So you can understand why Thursday’s ceremony to mark the invasion’s 75th anniversary was so important. Each day, we lose, on average, 362 chances to hear firsthand stories from WWII, to meet the men and women who sacrificed to save the world for liberty and freedom, to thank them.
Thank you one and all.
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Thumbs down to the unknown vandals who struck in Brookneal this past Tuesday night or early in the morning on Wednesday, wreaking havoc on the Brookneal Ballpark.
According to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, the suspect(s) inflicted damage both to the ballfield and the outfield fence. On clue they left behind? A bike rack. When they were plowing through the outfield fence to leave, the bike rack became entangled and was left at the scene.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Clifton Mason at (434) 376-2650 or Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 798-5900.
Honestly, this is just sad, folks. Sad.