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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Preserving D-Day: When Time Stopped

Because the Memorial currently lacks an indoor museum component, most visitors don't know about our archives and the artifacts we house in it.  But the Memorial has hundreds of artifacts in its collection that help us paint a more clear picture of the Normandy Invasion.  And that is what is so wonderful about artifacts - they help tell the story of history.  Artifacts provide visual clues and insights to historical events, and they often allow us to see a more personal side of history.  This is particularly true of the artifact we're featuring today.  **I'd also like to give special thanks to Hugh, a dedicated Memorial volunteer, for compiling the images and information for today's post.

 To the untrained eye, the piece on the left may just seem like an average wrist watch.  But in reality, it is much more than that.   The Elgin watch in the photo belonged to James Foster, a member of the 379th Anti-aircraft Artillery Provisional Machine Gun Battalion of the 49th Anti-aircraft Artillery Brigade.  Foster's battalion was involved in the D-Day invasion, and sadly, James Foster was killed as he exited his landing craft wading ashore at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.  It is believed that Foster's watch stopped at the exact time of his death on D-Day.

The watch along with his leather billfold (seen in the photo on the right) were returned to James' wife Margaret in March of 1945.  The contents of the billfold, although water damaged, included such personal items as photos of his wife, his draft card, and his Virginia driver's license.  James Foster's body was brought home to Waynesboro, VA after the war - his final resting place is Riverview Cemetery.  Foster was Waynesboro's only D-Day fatality.

These items, along with the original Western Union telegrams (notification that he was missing-in-action and the subsequent notification that he had been killed-in-action) and also other official letters from the War Department were donated by James Foster's niece, Joyce DeWitt.      


The Memorial looks forward to the day, hopefully in the near future, where these priceless objects can be displayed for all of the public to see in a physical setting.  But until then we will continue to use the blog as a virtual museum of sorts to let the artifacts tell the important story of D-Day.  Be sure to look back soon to learn more about our collection.
- Megan

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Upcoming Events: Memorial Day Commerations

It's hard to believe that Memorial Day weekend will be here in a little more than a week.  While Memorial Day serves as a great excuse for many Americans to enjoy a three-day weekend, I hope people will stop to remember the meaning and significance of Memorial Day.   After all, Memorial Day is just a single day set aside in our country to remember the selfless men and women that have paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting our rights and freedom. I'm not trying to sound trite or cliche when I say that patrons to the National D-Day Memorial recognize this sacrifice on any day they visit our monument to our nation's heroes.  However, we too want to pay tribute to our fallen servicemen and women around the Memorial Day holiday too, and we have two upcoming events that do just that.  

We would love for you join us for one or both programs in the upcoming weeks.  Information on both events can be found below, and a link to purchase tickets for the Stars and Stripes Forever: Patriotic Concert is also found below.

I hope to see you soon!

  Stars and Stripes Forever: Patriotic Concert

  May 25, 2013 - 7pm

 On Saturday, May 25, at 8pm the Jefferson Choral Society performs a stirring patriotic concert that will have guests on their feet celebrating the freedoms so many have fought and died to protect.  The concert will include performances by the Jefferson Youth Chorale and Cantate and the Chorus of the Blue Ridge.  

Prior to the show, from 7pm to 8pm, visitors can enjoy a moonlight serenade with music by ensemble Let’s Dance who will perform musical selections from the 1940s. The Memorial will remain open until 10:00pm.  Tickets are on sale now.  Adults: $7.00 in advance or $10.00 at the door.  Students ages 6-18: $5.00 in advance or $8.00 at the door.  Children under 6 are free.  Bring your own chair.


Remembering Their Sacrifice

Memorial Day Ceremony and Brick Dedication

May 27, 2013 - 11AM
The Memorial commemorates Memorial Day with a ceremony to officially recognize the men and women who have sacrificed for our freedoms.  A number of plaques will be dedicated to commemorate various elements of D-Day.  Blue and gold star bricks placed in honor and memory of those who have served will be dedicated on this special day.  The program begins at 11am.  Admission is free until noon.  Guests are asked to bring their own chair.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Calling All Kids! Day Camp is Coming Soon!

As I sit in my office today, I can see the beautiful blue sky, and I'm envious of those that get to spend the day outside.  The weather is just about perfect, and I can hardly stand staying indoors.  And I'm reminded of those agonizing days at the end of the school year where it felt as though the sun and the sky were teasing rem were left before summer vacation.  Now, while I still long to be outside on beautiful days like this, I know that time travels much quicker, and summer will be here before I blink!

With summer, comes the Memorial's annual day camp event called "Growing Up in WWII".  It's hard to believe that in just over a month, 30+ elementary school kids will invade the Memorial's education tent for a fun-filled, action packed three-day day camp!  And while I'm always excited about day camp, this year's camp promises to be the most exciting day camp yet.  "Why?"  Might you ask. 

Because this year's day camp is all about spies, espionage, saboteurs, and all things stealthy.  Kids will get to examine the roles of WWII spies and investigate espionage skills used during the war.  Each child will  take on a secret identity and will be tasked with a top secret day camp mission to achieve throughout the week. 

In addition to our sneaky shenanigans, students will also learn about the life of a soldier in WWII and about life on the American Home Front. "Growing Up in World War II" summer day camp encourages young students to continue in their pursuit of knowledge and history.  At the conclusion of day camp, students leave with a greater appreciation for those in past and present military service and for the sacrifices made overseas and at home in WWII.  

Registration is now open!  Camp runs Wednesday, June 26th through Friday, June 28th from 8:30AM-1PM for 4th-6th graders.  All campers receive a camp t-shirt and souvenir!  Contact the Education Department of the National D-Day Memorial by phone at (540) 587-3617 or by email at for more information or to register!  Camp fees to apply.  Day camp registration forms are also available on the Memorial’s website at

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ration-Era Recipes: Cinnamon Bread

I know I've been absent from blogging lately, so please forgive me as I know you've been eagerly awaiting my latest post.  Well, the wait is over!  Once again I've returned to the trusty Victory Cookbook for some good ole fashioned carb therapy.  The variety found in the Victory Cookbook is quite incredible, and I would expect nothing less from a volume totaling a mere 860 pagesWhile you'll probably never see me fixing recipes like "Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwiches" (p. 137) or "Tounge Braised with Aspic Jelly" (p. 349), I'm always willing to try a variety of "safe", typically carb-y, recipes regardless of the labor required.

My very messy, sticky, flour-y counter
And let me tell you, this week's recipe was a labor of love - the process was laborious; the result was lovely.  

The "Rolled Cinnamon Bread"  took about 3 1/2 hours from the start of the recipe until the bread was ready to be sliced.  (Also, I cheated a little by using quick-rising yeast to speed up the process.)  Furthermore, it created quite a mess -as you can see.  Thankfully I'm lucky enough to have a gracious husband who scrubbed the counter-top afterward.

Freshly sliced Rolled Cinnamon Bread
But all of the effort was well worth it.  The smell of cinnamon and fresh bread filled our house, which only made the entire process seem so much longer as we waited to sink our teeth into the warm deliciousness.  After much standing and sniffing and peaking into the oven, the bread was finally done.  We let it cool slightly then dug in, and we were not disappointed.  The bread tasted just as good as it smelled!  My husband even emarked that this was possibly the best ration-era recipe I've tested so far.   Hooray!  

Fittingly, the Victory Cookbook recommends that mothers serve this bread as a treat for children, and I can see why.  The cinnamon-swirled bread has just the right amount of sweetness, yet it remains very ration-point friendly.  It requires very little sugar and oil which were heavily rationed during WWII.  I can easily imagine little mouths in a 1940s kitchen waiting anxiously for a taste of this sweet bread as it baked.   


Here's the recipe: 

Standard Recipe for White Bread
1 cake yeast                                             2 Tbsp. shortening
¼ c. lukewarm water                                  2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. sugar                                              2 c. milk, scalded
1 ½ tsp. salt                                             6 cups sifted flour, about

Add yeast to lukewarm water and 1 tsp. sugar.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Add salt, shortening, and remaining sugar to milk and cool to lukewarm.  Add softened yeast and 3 cups flour.  Beat well.

Add enough more flour to make a soft dough.  Place remaining flour on board, turn out dough on floured board and knead until smooth and elastic.  Place in greased bowl, turn over, so that greased side is on top, cover with cloth and let rise until doubled in bulk.  Punch down and let rise a second time if desired.

Rolled Cinnamon Bread
1 recipe Standard White Bread dough (p. 103)    6 Tbsp. brown sugar        
1 tsp. cinnamon

When dough is light, divide into halves and roll each half into a sheet 9” square.  Sprinkle with a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon.  Roll up like jelly roll and place, seam side down, in greased bread pans.  Let rise until light.  Bake in hot over (435 degrees)  15 minutes, then reduce temperature to moderate (375 degrees) and bake 25 minutes longer.  Remove from pans and cool.  Makes 2 loaves.