The 75th Anniversary of D-Day
On June 6, 1944 Bedford, Virginia lost 20 of the 32 sons it sent to the invasion of Normandy, a devastating blow to the tiny community of just over 3,200 souls. Over time, grief gave rise to solemn pride and deep commitment to ensuring the story of D-Day and its costs and consequences were not lost on future generations. That commitment, along with the distinction of sustaining the highest per capita D-Day losses, placed the monument to D-Day here rather than elsewhere in the country. Dedicated in 2001 with some 24,000 in attendance, the Memorial has since hosted hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the globe.
The Memorial’s motto – “Commemorating Their Valor, Fidelity, and Sacrifice” – places education squarely at the center of its mission and "The Final Salute: The 75th Anniversary of D-Day", was one of the Memorial’s biggest educational undertakings yet, and its largest event since the national dedication in 2001. With 10,000 visitors in attendance, and nearly 100 WWII veterans. “The Final Salute” combined the best of the Memorial with the best of the D-Day story: a gathering of veterans and the general public at the nation’s memorial to the invasion of Normandy for reflection and remembrance – the story of ordinary people in extraordinary moments.
June 6, 2019 marked the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, a milestone that represented one of the last large gathering of D-Day veterans around the globe. To mark this historic occasion, and to take advantage of the opportunities for discussion and commemoration it presented, the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia observed the 75th Anniversary with six days of ceremonies, displays, interviews, and much more. Please enjoy some of the photo highlights from this incredible week of programs:
Keynote address for “The Final Salute” Commemorative Observance. Delivered by Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence. - June 6, 2019
Active duty service members and family poured in to the memorial on June 6, 2019, to honor the men and women who served in WWII. Each WWII veteran in attendance was recognized for their contributions during the war, and presented with a commemorative 75th Anniversary coin from the Virginia WWI and WWII Commemoration Commission
Living History Flight Experience, held at the Lynchburg Regional Airport - June 5, 2019
Aerial World War II Tribute featuring vintage and modern aircraft from across the country.
Vice President Mike Pence meets and salutes some of the nearly 100 World War II veterans in attendance for "The Final Salute" program on the morning of June 6, 2019.
"Drawing D-Day: An Artist’s Journey Through War", by Ugo Giannini. Book signing and reception with Maxine Giannini - June 4, 2019
"Tuesday Mourning", a production by Effulgent Productions, told the story of six boys from Bedford who grew up together and went to war together. Full of warmth and humor and thought-provoking questions, the play also captured the emotions of their wives and mothers. An accurate and personal story told in words of the few survivors and the community that remembered. More than just D-Day, "Tuesday Mourning" highlighted the sacrifices that families and communities continue making even today..."
WWII Veterans and their Active Duty Escorts - June 6, 2019
As the sun rose over the memorial on June 6th, thousands of visitors began taking their seats in preparation for the ceremony and the Aerial World War II Tribute
Families placed flags in the memorial gardens to pay respect to Veterans who could not be there and to show gratitude for their service -
June 7, 2019
The Virginia WWI and WWII Commission presented coins to all WWII veterans in attendance, and the Profiles of Honor Tour engaged visitors all week.
Sunday morning WWII Field Chapel Service at The National D-Day Memorial - June 9, 2019
ABOVE: Watch the keynote address for “The Final Salute” Commemorative Observance as delivered by the Vice President of the United States of America, Mike Pence, on June 6th, 2019.
Courtesy of Fox News
RIGHT: Missing man formation flyover, concluding “The Final Salute” Commemorative Observance.
Courtesy of the National D-Day Memorial