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Monday, April 7, 2014

D-Day Through the Decades: 1984 Commemoration

Hello everyone!  

Forgive me for being a day late, but we are 2 months away from the big event!  To say we are busy would be an understatement; everyone is working at 100% to make sure this is the most memorable commemoration we can give our WWII heroes.  There have been several new developments and we still have a few things in the works – remember to visit our 70th Anniversary Event page to keep up with all the information concerning all the events that will be going on over the weekend of June 6-8, 2014. 

Let’s take a trip back in time to look at the 40th Anniversary of D-Day.  It was in 1984 that President Ronald Regan became the first sitting United States President to visit the beaches of Normandy for the June 6th commemoration ceremonies.  Speaking at the Ranger Memorial at Pointe du Hoc at 1:20 p.m., President Regan delivered his now famous “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” address.  Timed to coincide with live feed of the ceremonies on the U.S. East Coast, this address was received by millions in the U.S. and thousands of veterans who had gathered together on the Normandy beaches. 

Here is a short except from the beginning of President Regan’s speech (click here to listen to the entire address):

We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For 4 long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but 40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers -- the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machineguns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After 2 days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Following his remarks, President Regan unveiled memorial plaques to the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions.  As those who gathered in 1984, we will gather together on June 6, 2014 to pay tribute to all the men who initiated the liberty of France and fought to rid Europe of the tyranny of German occupation.  Join us as we unveil Homage, a new statue to honor the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of all our servicemen and women.  

We look forward to seeing you all on June 6 at 11a.m. for the ceremony marking the 70th Anniversary of this historic event.  

Until next time, 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Around the Memorial: Spring is Here!

Good afternoon everyone! 

I hope you are all having a wonderful day.  I know it has technically been spring for a few weeks now; however, with the snow we had last week, I would beg to differ.  It is a beautiful day here in Bedford at the National D-Day Memorial, and boy are we having a busy day.  With the 70th Anniversary a little over two months away (and the weather finally cooperating), we have begun preparations on-site for the ceremony.  Today, we had a team of men cutting up part of the sidewalk in order to install our new homage sculpture in a few months.  The jackhammer has been loud all morning, but we know that we are pushing toward the future. 

On top of that, we also installed our new education tent.  Some of you may know that back a few weeks ago, our tent succumbed to the weight of the snow, during a particularly heavy snow storm.  We have been waiting for weeks to put up our new tent, and finally the day arrived.  The weather has been perfect today for the installation of the tent.  I would like to say thank you to all the staff involved in putting up the tent (Martin, Ron, and Jamie) and to the Town of Bedford Electric Department for coming out to lift the new tent up and over the existing framework. 

To wrap up my day, the cherry blossoms are about to bloom and my students from Big Island Elementary finally was able to do a little planting in the garden!  Today we planted beets, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, and radishes.  Special thanks goes out to all the Master Gardeners who donate their time teaching these students about gardening, and to Moneta Farm and Home Center for donating the seeds.  I just love this time of year and getting to spend most of the day outside around the site talking to people. 

Be sure to come visit us next Saturday, April 12th from 10-5 for our first living history event of the year!  Prelude to Invasion includes several craft stations and living historians discuss what it took to plan and prepare for the largest amphibious invasion.  Remember, this is our annual scout day - if you are a girl scout or boy scout leader and you would like your troop to attend this event free of change, please contact the education department via e-mail at  Scouts and scout leaders who register for the event and attend in uniform will be given free admission throughout the day.  Registration ends April 9th.

I hope to see you all soon!

Until next time,