Honoring 'the Greatest Generation' on 75th anniversary of D-Day at Bedford's national memorial

Officials estimate more than 10,000 attended memorial

BEDFORD, Va. – It's been a day of tribute at the National D-Day Memorial as thousands flocked to salute those who have been called a part of "the Greatest Generation." 

From a ceremonial reading of names to speeches from Virginia lawmakers and even the vice president, events throughout the ceremony honored those who never came home. 

History was made here at the memorial Thursday as the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy 75 years ago came together for a final salute. 

"This is a day about heroes and the courage that it took to keep the world free," said Robert Wilkie, U.S. secretary of veterans affairs.

From the ground, to the sky, it was a historic tribute to "the Greatest Generation." 

"All of them risked all to win a great victory," said Vice President Mike Pence at Thursday's ceremony. "Among thousands, honoring brave troops who stormed the beaches of Normandy, the dozens who were able to attend the ceremony and the thousands who never made it off the beach." 

"On that day in 1944 they gave up two lives, the one on the beach and the one that they would have led had they come back," said Wilkie. 

It's a loss Bedford knows all too well, losing more soldiers per capita on D-Day than any other town in America. 

"Their story is remarkable, but it is also one that repeated itself throughout World War II as ordinary men and women across America stepped forward when their country and the world needed them most," said Sen. Mark Warner.

More than 100 of those who stepped up during World War II were honored Thursday with a round of applause and a medal. 

"You are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live. You are the pride of our nation and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts," said Pence.

Honoring the men who lived to see the 75th anniversary and those who never made it back home. 

Officials estimate more than 10,000 people visited the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford on Thursday.