BEDFORD, Va. – The D-Day Memorial in Bedford will glow this weekend as thousands of people visit to see the Flames of Memory display.
Thousands of luminaries will cover nearly every surface of the memorial. In all, there will be 4,413 luminaries, running along the path from the memorial's entrance all the way to the memorial's wall of names in the main plaza.
Each of those lights will represent one allied soldier, sailors, or airman killed in action on June 6, 1944, as allied forces launched the largest amphibious operation in history.
The Flames of Memory display is a way for people across the region to check out some amazing Christmas lights, while also honoring those lost on D-Day.
"It’s just a breathtaking way to view it,” says Angela Lynch, the associate director of mastering for the National D-Day Memorial Foundation. “You get up here and when you realize what each of those lights actually means, it’s hard to put into words the feelings that overcome folks.”
For many people, this is a way to check out the memorial in a way they’ve never been able to do before. During the rest of the year, the D-Day Memorial closes at 5 p.m. so this is a rare chance to come in after hours and see the site all lit up.
Saturday night is giving visitors a special chance to not to see the lights, but also get a sense of what World War II was like, especially at Christmas. There will be an encampment set up exactly how soldiers would have set up their camps during the war. Actors will be on scene portraying real soldiers, telling about their experiences, how they celebrated Christmas more than 4,000 miles from home, and getting a detailed picture of what life was like for soldiers in the 1940s.
“It’s really an authentic experience. I think it's something that if you bring the kids up, it’s a really interesting way for them to learn about World War II history,” says Lynch. “They’re seeing the artifact and clothing the way it would’ve been set up on the warfront.”
The Christmas in Wartime presentation will only be taking place on Saturday.
The Flames of Memory will start on Friday and runs from 6 to 8 p.m. It is free to visit.