Local residents in Normandy for 75th D-Day commemoration

40 Bedford International Alliance members will be in France for 12 days

BEDFORD, Va. – On Thursday, the beaches of Normandy and the surrounding French countryside will be filled, not with war, as they were 75 years ago, but with civilians, including 40 members of the Bedford International Alliance.

Charlie Walker says the group has been there every five years since it was formed over two decades ago to support the D-Day Memorial in Bedford.

"Every five years, the French go all out and make a special acknowledgment of what the Americans did," Walker said.

Lorraine Judd, also part of the group, says this year's event is being called the final salute.

"The next landmark, which would be the 80th anniversary, we can't think that there might...be any World War II veterans left," Judd said.

For that reason, members were eager to sign up for the trip this year.

"As soon as our organization announced that we were planning the trip this year, the quota got filled up real quickly. I was somewhat surprised that our French counterpart organization over there was able to muster enough French hosts to take care of such a large group," Walker said.

Along with visiting Normandy, the group will also go to Paris and Luxembourg.

Walker and Judd call retracing the steps of the thousands of Americans who fought and died an incredible experience and said it brings tears to everyone's eyes.

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