The anniversary happens every year on June 6th. The time when the nation pauses to remember what happened on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day in 1944.
The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia marks the anniversary every year, but this year is special. It’s the 75th anniversary and likely one of the last times that many of the surviving veterans will be able to be at the memorial for the event.
“When is the last time someone will physically be able to join us here that fought on that day – that served on that day? You know, we see year in and year out veterans that are typically able to join us for our different events throughout the year –we see their health declining and so it’s always front of mind for the folks here at the memorial because we do see these individuals on a regular basis. So I think with the 75th quickly approaching, it’s just even more in the forefront of our minds that we have to make this really truely special because we don’t know if we’ll have another opportunity,” said Angela Lynch, the Director of Marketing with the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.
With the anniversary, the memorial has several events planned. There will be an aerial tribute that will include planes from both world war ii and the modern-day military.
“This year I think is going to be really unique, unlike anything that folks have seen here at the National D-Day Memorial,” said Lynch.
The memorial foundation is asking for veterans to register ahead of time if possible so that they can be honored at the ceremony this year.
‘We plan to honor them by calling them up individually, sharing with the audience a little about their service –whatever they choose to share with us, we’ll read that. They will be escorted up front by a member of the curent day military and a really special tribute for those individuals,” said Lynch.
There is no deadline to get on the list, the memorial will also register veterans on June 6th as well. For those who work at the memorial, having it in Bedford is extremely important.
“Just the idea that we have a place where veterans can gather, they can share their story, they can remember what they did, they can share what they did with younger generations, I think it’s important to have a gathering place,” said Lynch.
And for those who had loved ones who served it serves as something even more.
“The memorial is very important, it’s a place of solemnity. When you come here, there is a quietness, that you can feel. There is a spirit of community that you connect with, and there is the silence of sacrifice. There are no words for any of that,” said Susan Nance Cobb, daughter of D-Day Veterean Elisha Ray Nance.
WFXR is also planning special coverage of the ceremony. A 30 minute special: D-Day at 75, Stories Beyond the Beach will run on June 1st. We will also be sharing more stories with you as we lead up to this special event.
To register a veteran for the event, or to get more information about the ceremony, click here.