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To commemorate the 77th anniversary, Bedford’s National D-Day Memorial has these events planned

The memorial commemorates the anniversary with three days of virtual and on-site events

This year marks 77 years since soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
This year marks 77 years since soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

BEDFORD, Va. – The National D-Day Memorial commemorates the 77th anniversary of D-Day with three days of virtual and on-site events.

The memorial kicked off the commemorative weekend with a virtual panel discussion on the various elements of the invasion, the impact of D-Day and why it remains relevant today.

″Just look at the headlines on June 6th and June 7th, 1944, every single one of them say invasion. You know, there had already been many – a dozen, two dozen invasions in World War II, but when you say “Invasion” has occurred everyone knew that this was the big one,” said book author and military historian Joe Balkoski. He added it was an event Americans hoped would succeed.

On Saturday, June 5, the Memorial will host a series of activities on-site for visitors to enjoy during the day. On-site events include a book signing by award-winning author and filmmaker Rick Beyer, writer, producer, and director of the film “The Ghost Army”, music throughout the day by the 29th Division Band, historical displays, tours, children’s activities and a memorial tour of the Necrology Wall by John Long, Director of Education, which includes information on the latest additions to the Memorial wall and little-known facts about the fatalities on D-Day.

The Memorial is also expecting special guest veteran Luciano “Louis” Graziano who was part of the third wave on D-Day on Omaha Beach. He is also the last known witness to the German surrender which ended hostilities in Europe in WWII. Graziano will be available to sign copies of his book A Patriot’s Memoirs of WWII.

Visitors can also view the new Bob Slaughter exhibit at the Memorial. An author of a widely read memoir titled Omaha Beach and Beyond and an international speaker on WWII, John Robert Slaughter was perhaps the best-known D-Day veteran in America by the time of his death in 2012. In 1989, Slaughter and like-minded colleagues established the Memorial to keep alive the memory of what happened on June 6, 1944, and to “provide an enduring reminder of the price that must be paid for freedom.”

A documentary-style video that traces the early beginnings of the monument has been produced by the Memorial and will premiere on the morning of June 6 at 11 a.m. It can be viewed on the memorial’s Facebook page, YouTube channel or at www.dday.org.

At 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 6, the Memorial will also host an in-person ceremony on-site with D-Day veteran guests and a wreath-laying ceremony at the sculpture Homage.

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About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.