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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

World War II Ration Era Recipe: Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls

This week, we are combining two of my favorite things into one blog post: Popcorn and Christmas.

Popcorn was popular in World War II at Christmas. Not only was it used as garland on Christmas trees, but it was used to make tasty treats at the holidays. Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls provide a source of protein and satisfy the holiday sweet tooth without forsaking the war effort.

Recipe from “Grandma’s Wartime Kitchen: World War II and the Way We Cooked” by Joanne Lamb Hayes

·         1 cup light molasses
·         2/3  cup of light corn syrup
·         1 tablespoon of vinegar
·         1 teaspoon of salt
·         1/2 cup of peanut butter
·         1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
·         3 quarts of popped corn

·         Combine molasses, corn syrup, vinegar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently until mixture reaches 250oF or until a little syrup dropped into cold water forms a hard ball. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla.
·         While syrup is cooking, spread out popcorn in a deep roasting pan. When peanut butter mixture has been combined, pour immediately over popcorn and stir until popcorn is evenly coated.
·         Lightly oil hands and shape mixture into 12 balls. Set aside to cool completely.

I will be honest, this recipe sounded much more promising than what it turned out to be. It was more difficult and messy than I anticipated in regards to mixing the molasses-peanut butter combination with the popcorn. I’ve also never really liked molasses, and the popcorn balls tasted more like molasses than peanut butter. They also did not stick together well at all, even after putting them in the refrigerator.

Perhaps, the reason why I did not do too well with this recipe is because I made it. I hope that you take time to try it out and I hope that you have better results than I did, especially if you like molasses J

Until next time,


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A 1940’s DIY Christmas

Hello, Friends!

The National D-Day Memorial's 2015 Christmas Tree
for the Festival of Trees
Each year in Bedford, Virginia, our Welcome Center hosts an event called “Festival of Trees.” Businesses and organizations decorate trees throughout the Welcome Center and the public is able to vote for their favorite tree for $1 a vote. Voting began November 18th and goes on through December 31st, 2015. All of the proceeds of the winning trees will be donated to their selected charities, with the Memorial's being our educational initiatives. 

This year’s theme is “DIY (Do It Yourself) Christmas.” While DIY is the “it” thing in home decorating today thanks to Pinterest, the Memorial hit the jackpot of sorts since Christmas both on the homefront and warfront during World War II for most involved improvising and creating their own decorations in order to support the war effort. Nothing was put to waste with most items being reused and recycled. So as I selected items to decorate the tree, I took into account things that would be readily available on the homefront during the war and could be repurposed for Christmas ornaments and decorations. Below are a few of the decorations we created for this event:

Materials Needed: Popcorn, cranberries, thread, needle and acrylic sealant spray

1.       Thread cranberries and popcorn onto a string to use as garland
2.       Stretch the cranberry and popcorn garland out on your work surface.
3.       Shake the can of acrylic sealant spray vigorously for several seconds. Hold the can of acrylic sealant spray about 10-inches above the garland.
4.       Start at one end of the garland and coat it with a thin layer of the acrylic sealant. Continue in this manner while moving down the strand. Let the sealant dry for at least 12 hours.
5.       Turn the garland over carefully and coat the backside of the garland with the acrylic sealant in the same manner as before. Let dry for at least 12 hours before using the cranberry and popcorn garland.
6.       Store the garland in an airtight plastic container after use. Add a few silica gel packets to the container before storing it away to help prevent moisture from building up in the storage container. Place the container in a cool and dry location.

During the early 20th century, popcorn was a holiday favorite not just for food but for decorations.

Of course, during World War II, acrylic sealant spray would not be available. But for the sake of preserving our decorations for almost two month, we needed to use it to keep it looking fresh and to keep the bugs and animals away.

Cookie Cutter Ornament featuring Bedford Boy,
Frank Draper

Materials Needed: Cookie cutters, photographs, scrap paper, and glue

1. Choose patterned papers or color-photocopy pictures onto card stock. Trace cutter on top; cut out. Dab white craft glue along cutter's edge. Press paper in place; let dry.
2. Thread narrow ribbon through needle; poke between paper and cutter, and wrap ribbon around top of cutter and tie a knot.

We chose to use photocopied photos of the Bedford Boys for the tree to give a personal touch to the tree.

We would love for you to come out and take a look at the Memorial’s tree, as well as all of the other gorgeously decorated trees. Just make sure to vote for our tree though! 

The Welcome Center is located at 816 Burks Hill Road, Bedford, VA 24523 with special hours as following:  Open until 9:00pm on Friday, December 4, 2015, Friday, December 11, 2015, Saturday, December 12, 2015, Sunday, December 13, 2015 and Friday, December 18, 2015. The Welcome Center will be closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day along with closing at 12:00pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Until next time,


Monday, December 7, 2015

74th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

This week, we are featuring a blog from Ches Bono, one of our Visitor Services staff members, about Pearl Harbor since today is the 74th Anniversary of the attack. I’ll be back next week with a blog on a 1940’s do-it-yourself Christmas tree.


Early in the morning of December 7, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Army attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. During the attack, over 2,400 Americans died, and over 1,100 were injured. Of the eight battleships in the harbor, four were sunk and the rest significantly damaged. 188 aircraft were destroyed, three cruisers were sunk or destroyed, as well as three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. This surprise attack was meant to cripple the Pacific Fleet and deter the United States from entering World War Two. However, the attack woke a sleeping giant instead.

Jeanette Rankin, Congresswoman from Montana
(1916-1918 and 1940-1941)
On December 8, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war against
Japan. It was passed almost unanimously. The only dissenting vote came from Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, famously said, “As a woman I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.” Ironically, she was in Congress for the declarations of war in World War I and World War II. Almost immediately after the declaration of war, Germany, Japan’s ally and fellow Axis Power, declared war on the United States. With one swift attack, the United States entered World War II.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt during
a fireside chat
Throughout the Great Depression and the war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt communicated with the nation through his fireside chats over the radio. In his address to the nation after the attack, he declared that it was “a date which will live in infamy.” Americans all over the country were shocked and saddened by the sudden loss of life from such an attack. In Bedford, as in other communities across the country, the townspeople were preparing for the holiday season and enjoying their normal Sunday activities when they found out. Families were heading off to church and gathering afterwards
for a meal. When word came, families across the county worried for those in the Pacific, but they also worried for themselves since many of the young men in the county had enlisted in the National Guard in order to make ends meet during the Depression. For many of these young men, a dollar a day for the work that they did with the National Guard was a fortune, especially during such a harsh economic downturn. When Congress declared war on December 8, these young men were now in the military for the long haul of the war, whether they liked it or not. For many, however, the desire to serve their country outweighed the fear of war.

Although the United States participated in the war prior to the attack through the Lend-Lease Act, this declaration of war caused the economy to shift from a peacetime one to a wartime one, with rationing and production increasing across the nation. Although the United States did not see intense action for a few years, men were still called away from home for training leaving the factories and farms largely unattended. The women of the United States answered the call, and joined the ranks of factory workers and providers for their family, aiding in the victory effort.

On this solemn anniversary, we remember those who lost their lives on December 7, 1941 and all who participated in the war. Each December, the National D-Day Memorial remembers the 4,413 men who lost their lives on D-Day during our Flames of Memory Illumination Event with 4,413 luminaries placed around the Memorial. The event takes place December 11-13 from 6 pm to 9 pm on these evenings, and the cost is free for all, although donations are appreciated. We hope to see you all there!


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Our D-Day Fallen: Harold Eugene "Gene" Sellers

Hello again!

We’re now less than two weeks away from our annual Flames of Memory luminary event at the Memorial. I walked in the Education Tent earlier and it was full with the 4,413 luminaries ready to be placed throughout the Memorial in honor of each soldier who was killed on June 6, 1944. If you are able to, I would love for you to join us December 11-13, 2015 from 6PM to 10PM for this event free of charge!

Harold Eugene "Gene" Sellers
Private First Class
501st Parachute Infantry Regt, 101st Airborne Division
Today, I want to honor one of these 4,413 soldiers, Harold Eugene “Gene” Sellers, and tell his story.

Gene was born in Lawrence County, Arkansas in 1922 to David and Sarah Sellers.  During his high school years, he was a star on the Jonesboro High School football and basketball teams. He received a football scholarship from the University of Arkansas but before he finished his first year of college, he decided to drop out and enlist in Army.

Gene joined the 101st Airborne Airborne when World War II began as a paratrooper. One of his letters reveals his excitement during his training:

“Dear Ruth, How’s everyone, fine I hope. I’m making it swell. We get our wings on Saturday. It’s one hell of a feeling when you jump from a plane. When you jump the prop blast catches you and sends you whirling. Then your chute opens giving you a big jerk. You come down real peaceful then to Earth. You don’t land so very hard. We have learned how to hit and take up a tumble to lessen the shock. Well I had better close, I jump tomorrow at 8:30. Bye, and answer soon. Lots of love, Gene.”

On D-Day, he was part of the massive force of paratroopers who parachuted behind enemy lines the night before the Normandy invasion. As a part of the Pathfinder unit, their mission was to set up radar and lights for drop zones to guide the incoming C-47s loaded with paratroopers.

As the unit landed, Gene drifted away from the landing zone towards an apple orchard and a group of Nazi soldiers. On June 6, 1944, Gene became the one of the first men to pay the ultimate sacrifice during the invasion. He is buried at the American Cemetery in Normandy and was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his valor. Because of his valor and sacrifice, along with the 4,413 other servicemen who gave their lives this day, the Allies went on to free France and Europe from Nazi tyranny.

Until next time,



Alligood, Leon. “Old Paratroopers Relive Leaps of Faith: 12 D-Day Pathfinders Reunite in Nashville for What May be Last Time.” The Tennessean, May 20, 2006.

American Battle Monuments Commission. “Letters.” Accessed November 30, 2015.

American Battle Monuments Commission. “Their Shoulders.” Accessed November 30, 2015.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Our D-Day Fallen: Captain Ettore V. Zappacosta

As we come into the beginning of the holiday season, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by our service men and women every day.  For soldiers of today and yesterday, the holidays were a reminder of their loved ones back home and the traditions they have here on the Homefront.  It is also during this season that we remember all the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country.  On December 11, 2015 at 6pm we will open the gates of the National D-Day Memorial for free admission to begin our weekend luminary event.  Like every year, we are lighting 4,413 luminaries – one to represent each of the soldiers who were killed in action on June 6, 1944.

Captain Ettore V. Zappacosta
These luminaries will be lit in honor of servicemen, like Captain Ettore V. Zappacosta. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1915. Although there is not much about his early years, it seems as if he moved to Washington D.C. to live with the Rabil family in 1940, just before the U.S. became involved in the war.

He was the Captain of Company B of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division of the U.S. Army during World War II. His company loaded from Weymouth-Portland to head towards Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 on his transport, the Empire Javelin.

“When we left the Empire Javelin and boarded the landing craft, Captain Zappacosta was the first man at the front. I was behind him, being his radio operator. He was very quiet going in. He was not a talkative man anyways, but he was very, very quiet on the trip in…. “ – Pvt. Bob Sales, Zappacosta’s Radio Operator, in an interview in 1999

“When the ramp dropped, Zappacosta was first off. He was immediately hit. Medic Thomas Kenser saw him bleeding from the hip and shoulder. Kenser, still on the ramp, shouted, "Try to make it in! I'm coming." But the captain was already dead. Before Kenser could jump off the boat he was shot dead. Every man on the boat save one (Pvt. Robert Sales) was either killed or wounded before reaching the beach.” -Stephen Ambrose, in his book, D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climatic Battle of World War II

Not only did Zappacosta valiantly lead his men into battle in the wake of the devastation on Omaha Beach with Company A, his ultimate sacrifice led to freedom for France, Europe, and the rest of the world. Zappacosta is buried in Yeadon, Pennsylvania at Holy Cross Cemetery. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

D-Day Fallen: John Schenk

Hello Friends!

As I am sure you have noticed, fall does not necessarily mean that the National D-Day Memorial is not busy with events and school groups. However, we are starting to slow down a bit and are getting excited for one of our favorite events of the year, Flames of Memory and Christmas in Wartime Presentation.

National D-Day Memorial's Flames of Memory and
Christmas in Wartime Presentation
During this event, thousands of luminaries are arranged throughout the Memorial and shine in recognition of Overlord’s fallen and in tribute to the ultimate sacrifice each one of them made to relight the lamp of freedom. This event is not only beautiful, but is such a vivid reminder of the sacrifice of the men on the beaches of Normandy. As twilight deepens and obscures the Blue Ridge, the Memorial will honor the 4,413 men killed on D-Day the nights of December 11-13, 2015 from 6PM-9PM. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

Luminaries are sold throughout the year and can be purchased in honor of or in memory of a loved one that has served or who is currently serving. Each luminary costs $20, or six for $100, and they can be purchased in honor or memory of anyone who has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, D-Day veteran or not. All proceeds benefit the Memorial and are tax-deductible. Also, group sales are available. If you are interested in purchasing a luminary, visit and click on “GIVING” or  call (540) 586-3329 for more information.

We would also like to extend a very special thanks to the Virginia Moose Association for supporting this worthy endeavor.

One thing we like to do each year leading up to Flames of Memory is to recognize a few of our D-Day fallen in our blog posts.  Today, I want to recognize one of our own from Bedford.

John Burwell Schenk was born in September 1916 in Bedford. He was a student in Business Administration at Virginia Tech and joined the Virginia National Guard on February 3, 1941.

One of my favorite things about John was his relationship with Ivylyn. In 1941, John was set up by a friend on a blind date with Ivylyn Jordan that lasted late into the night. They continued to date after the war began and eventually were married when he was on leave from Camp Blanding, Florida. After he deployed to England to prepare for D-Day, John and Ivylyn wrote letters to each other every day when Schenk was in England.

Just before the Normandy invasion, Ivylyn wrote a letter to John on May 21, 1944. Below is a portion of that letter:

“Although I haven’t written [recently] my heart has been filled with thoughts for and about you. Your letters are so full of hope and brightness for the future. Several have come this week written May 7, 8, 10, and 11th. They have been like sunbeams on long winter days…”

In their letters, not only did they discuss their love for one another, they talked about the daily events of their lives. After over twenty months of being apart due to the war, the war did not allow them to make it to their two year wedding anniversary.

As a part of the 29th Division, 116th Regiment, Company A, Ssgt. John Schenk landed in the first wave of the assault on Omaha Beach with other young soldiers from Bedford, Virginia. Their objective was to get up to the high-water mark and off the beach. However, many did not make it. John was one of those men who died due to heavy fire as they reached the shore.

On July 17, 1944, his parents received news from the War Department that John was killed in action in France on June 6, 1944. Although the news was not what Ivylyn expected, she lived her life like John would’ve liked for her to as she carried on his memory even though she remarried. He is buried at the American Cemetery at Normandy.

Until Next Time,


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Veterans Day

Hello Friends!

Here at the National D-Day Memorial we honor those who participated in and pay tribute to those who did not return from the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944 in Normandy, France. While D-Day and World War II are the main focus of our mission, we also strive throughout the year to honor all who have served—past and current—in  the U.S. Armed Forces.   

Roger Neighborgall during WWII
Our annual Veterans Day ceremony will take place on Wednesday, November 11th at 11AM. We will
take time to honor all who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces during this special event. The program will include special music, guest speakers, and recognition of all veterans. Admission is free 10AM – 12PM. 

 Our keynote speaker for this event is World War II Veteran, Roger Neighborgall. Neighborgall was assigned to the U.S. Army 5th Ranger Battalion in 1944. He took part in the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe campaigns and was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Combat Infantry Badge.

This year, we are also excited to have Alex Kershaw again as a special guest speaker—twice in one year, too! He recently released a new book, Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris, which is about the untold story of a brave doctor who risked everything to defy Hitler. He has also written several other books about WWII, including The Bedford Boys and The Longest Winter.

Annie J. Bronson Veterans Memorial Walk in the Spring
The latest installment of veteran bricks in the Annie J. Bronson Veterans Memorial Walk, Blue Star Garden, and Gold Star Garden will also be dedicated at this ceremony. These inscribed bricks are a permanent tribute to men and women who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States. These lasting tributes are not limited to service in World War II and can encompass any service period. The placement of each brick is not only an investment in the legacy of a loved one, but also an investment in the future of the Memorial. At a cost of $250 each, the bricks are an affordable way to give permanent veteran recognition at the National D-Day Memorial. Visit  for more information if you are interested in purchasing a brick. The next dedication of bricks will take place Memorial Day 2016 and will include orders placed now through February 1, 2016.

Special thanks to our generous sponsors for the Veterans Day ceremony, Cintas and Fostek Corporation. 

I hope to see you at the Veterans Day Ceremony if you can make it! 


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

History Explorers: Developing an Interest in History for Today’s Youth

Hello, Friends!

One of the things I love to do is to help students and the general public develop a deeper understanding and love for history. While I get to do this regularly with field trips and giving tours of the Memorial, I only have around one hour to cover the history of D-Day in the context of World War II. While I have been able to inspire most with the personal stories of D-Day veterans and their families, most of our youth like to learn with their hands and through interactions which is difficult to do with large groups in such a short period of time.

One of our History Explorers watching
rain form from the cloud.
This is why I love our partnership with a local elementary school in the county through the 21st Century Grant program. Through this partnership, students travel up to the Memorial once a week for eight weeks for an hour each visit. In this time, we get to explore and interact with the history of D-Day. This is what we have done for the past few weeks:

On the third week of the program, we talked about preparing and planning for the D-Day invasion. We talked about, and even tested each other on, requirements to be a part of the military, analyzed the invasion map and created our own, and finally discussed how weather impacted the invasion and did an experiment on how rain forms with shaving cream and food coloring.
On the fifth week, we talked about the naval and air operations of the D-Day invasion. We created our own Higgins boats (LCVPs) and tested them to see how much weight they could hold. We also made our own P-51 Mustang paper airplanes.

Our History Explorers shopping for a meal with only
10 ration points and $5. 
Last week, we interacted with artifacts from the homefront and tried our hand at shopping with ration points in the Memorial’s “Piggly Wiggly.” And today, we will be talking about the importance of victory in WWII and how we can honor veterans today. We will be making V-Pins and creating this fun craft as a card to hand out to veterans at the Memorial’s Veterans Day ceremony on November 11th.

Not only can history be relevant to us today, but we have to remember that it can be fun, as well. That is why I love working with our History Explorers. Instead of learning history through a lecture or PowerPoint in a classroom, we can get our hands dirty and tangible interact with the past in a way that they will remember for years to come.

Until next time,


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

World War II Ration Era Recipe: Squash Biscuits

Besides the changing leaves and being able to wear boots again, I love fall because winter squash is in season at the market. Winter squash is typically harvested in September or October and consists of butternut squash, spaghetti squash, acorn squash and many other variants. During the 1940’s in an effort to reduce waste during World War II, leftover winter squash was used to make tasty biscuits.

Recipe from “Grandma’s Wartime Kitchen: World War II and the Way We Cooked” by Joanne Lamb Hayes

·         2 cups of unsifted all-purpose flour
·         3 tablespoons of light brown sugar
·         3 teaspoons of baking powder
·         ¼ teaspoon of salt
·         ¼ cup of shortening
·         ½ cup of milk
·         ½ cup of pureed winter squash puree

·         Preheat oven to 375oF. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
·         Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture forms coarse crumbles
·         Combine milk and squash puree. Add to flour mixture and stir together just until all flour mixture has been moistened. Spoon out onto greased baking sheet to make 12 biscuits.
·         Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
·         Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to serving basket and serve warm.

Honestly, this was a fairly simple recipe and easy to make. The most frustrating part of the recipe was
making the puree since I did not buy frozen butternut squash, but even that wasn’t difficult.  It felt even more like a true “ration-era” recipe since I pulled all of the ingredients from my pantry, except for the squash.

As they were cooling, I was prepared for these not to taste the best as most ration recipes tend to taste bland. But, they surprised me in the most pleasant way. They sort of reminded me of Red Lobster’s biscuits. I plan on making them again this fall, but probably with more salt and adding cheddar cheese.

I hope that you take some time to try out this recipe and possibly incorporate it into one of your fall dinners!

Until next time,


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Meet the Truman's: Eisenhower's 125th Birthday Event

Will and Sue Wills, performance duo depicting Mr. and Mrs. Truman.
Join us in celebration of Gen. Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower’s birthday at the Memorial’s annual fall fundraiser. This event features a catered luncheon, a fabulous silent auction, and a very special tribute performance. Audience members will be entertained with the enduring tale of Harry Truman and beloved bride, Bess.

“Presidents and Their First Ladies, dramatically speaking” is the creation of the veteran acting and writing duo, William and Sue Wills. Together, they will narrate the touching love story of the Truman’s through humor, rocky times, human frailties, and enduring affection. Through Mr. and Mrs. Wills fantastic program, they hope to share the personal side of our famous first couples, transforming them into more than just another page in the history books.

This special event will be held at the National D-Day Memorial, October 11, 1 PM - 4 PM. Tickets are on sale now; $35 per person or $60 per couple for performance and lunch. Performance only tickets are $15 per person.

33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman
Truman Fun Facts

Harry S. Truman

1.  Born on May 8, 1884 in Lamar, Missouri and moved to Independence, Missouri only six years later.
2.  Poor eyesight kept Harry from joining sports teams, but allowed him to cultivate his true passions;
reading and music.
3.  He read every book in the Independence Public Library and was a talented pianist.
4. Despite being an excellent student, Truman’s parents could not afford a proper college education and his eye impediments kept him from attending West Point, his dream college.
5. Truman worked a multitude of jobs once graduating from high school in 1901, including farming, oil drilling, and banking.
6.  Harry joined the army in 1917 and served in France during World War I. He left the Army in 1919 as a captain and married Bess soon after.
7. The S. in Harry S. Truman stands for nothing except S. His parents were honoring both his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.
8.  Harry ran for county judge in Jackson County, MO in 1924. Launching his political career.
9. In 1934, Harry ran for U.S. Senate and won.
10.   Headed the Truman Commission during World War II investigating fraud in defense contracts, saving the government millions of dollars.
11.   Handpicked by President Roosevelt to be his running mate during the 1944 election.
12.   Less than three months after the election, Harry S. Truman was sworn in as the 33rd President of the United States of America.
13.   Biggest decision as President was to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, thus ending the 2nd World War and changing American foreign policy.
14.   Truman also faced tough decisions regarding the beginning of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Central Intelligence Agency, and National Security Council.
15.   Expanded the GI Bill, created numerous proposals regarding health care and issued four civil rights executive orders during his time in office.
16.   Today, Truman is thought to be one of the best Presidents in U.S. history, ranking 5th behind Lincoln, FDR, Washington, and Theodore Roosevelt.
17.   President Truman passed away on December 26, 1972 in Kansas City, MO at the age of 88.

Truman family spending quality time together.
Famous Quotes:

“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
“I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.”

Bess Truman
Elizabeth Truman

 1. First Lady of President Harry Truman, Wife.
 2.  Birth name, Elizabeth “Bess” Virginia Wallace. Born on February 13, 1885 in Independence, Missouri.
 3.  Married Harry S. Truman on June 28, 1919.
 4. Together they had one child named “Mary” Margaret Truman (1924-2008)     
 5.  Bess supported numerous charities including the Red Cross, Muscular Dystrophy and Cerebral Palsy, and Girl Scouts.
 6.  Bess and Harry met while attending Sunday school in Missouri; she was only 5 years old.
 7.  Bess was described as an intelligent, religious woman, more comfortable at home, and introverted. Preferred to quietly support her husband, even during his time in the White House.
 8.  Truman became President when Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away in April, 1945, thus thrusting the both of them into extremely public political life.
 9.   The post war American public admired her for the homely lifestyle within the White House.
10. Bess is the longest living first lady thus far, passing away at 97 years old. She died October 18, 1982 in her place of birth.

Famous Quote:
“We are not any of us happy to be where we are but there’s nothing to be done about it except to do our best – and forget about the sacrifices and many unpleasant things that pop up.”

“I am not the one who is elected. I have nothing to say to the public.”

Truman family sharing a few laughs.
I hope you all will join us for this splendid fall event!

Take Care,

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Changes at the Memorial and New Artifacts

Hello, Friends!

So in the past few weeks, the National D-Day Memorial has gone through quite a few staff changes.  Felicia recently accepted a position at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation as an Education Officer. She has the amazing opportunity to be a part of opening the brand new American Revolution Museum in Spring 2017, and we know Felicia has an incredible future ahead of her! Also, Liz is getting married in just a few weeks so her last day at the Memorial is this week as she gets ready to move to the Tidewater region of Virginia. Both Felicia and Liz mean so much to us at the National D-Day Memorial and we appreciate all they have contributed to the success of the Memorial, and this blog in particular!
Ches, Felicia, and Maggie
on Felicia's last day at the Memorial
Well now that the sad part of the blog is over, I want to introduce myself and another staff member who will be collaborating with me on the blog. My name is Maggie and I have been with the National D-Day Memorial since May 2013 as an Education Intern until January 2015 when I was hired on staff to assist Felicia with field trips and the planning of education events. I have loved my time so far at the Memorial being able to meet incredible D-Day veterans while getting to tell their stories to students and the general public! I am excited to take on this blog and look forward to this “sentimental journey” we are about to embark upon.

Today, I am including a post from Ches, the Memorial’s newest hire. She started as an Education Intern  in January 2015 and was recently hired to assist with visitors to the Memorial and our downtown offices. I am so excited that she will still be able to have a hand in Education by contributing to this blog. See her post below:

As an intern and a volunteer, I have been mostly focused on Education and Curation. In my time here at the Memorial, I have had the wonderful privilege of working with some incredible artifacts as they have come into the Foundation’s collection. I’d like to talk to you about a new group of artifacts that we recently received and that I have been going through.

At first glance, the box full of random papers and bits of fabric didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. After all, most of the artifacts that we get that are papers are usually discharge certificates and enlistment forms and identification cards. It isn’t that these items aren’t important or even exciting- they are! It’s just that these are among the most common artifacts donated to the Foundation since they keep track of individual soldiers and are easy for families to keep. So when I opened the box and took a peek inside, I was amazed at how wrong I was. Here was an assortment of items kept by a Lt. Leonard Childers from Appomattox, Virginia in the war, from his introduction to the war in France to his capture by the Germans and the time he spent as a Prisoner Of War (POW) in one of their camps. He had kept letters he had written home, the comic books he had gotten from the Red Cross, his German identification card, and so much more. He even had a piece of an SS officer’s uniform! These pieces are all in excellent condition for being as old as they are.

We are working diligently here at the Foundation to ensure that these pieces of history can be preserved for generations to come. After all, history is a precious and valuable thing, and having artifacts such as these help to bring that history to life. They shape our understanding of the past and give us a better appreciation for what our forefathers endured for us to be here. With the POW/MIA Awareness Day only a few days behind us, on September 19, I think it’s important to remember this soldier and his sacrifice. I want to thank him and his family for their incredibly generous donation of these artifacts, so that all can remember and experience the history of a POW, even after he has passed on.  Without these artifacts, it would be much harder for some to know the valor, the fidelity, and the sacrifice that these soldiers had while being held as POWs.  

These artifacts were generously donated by Marilen Childers King and can be found in the NDDMF Collection under the collection number 2015.0026. 


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Gold Star Mothers Appreciation Day

Hello All,

Hand sewn service flag, WWII.
On Sunday, September 27, we will be honoring Gold Star Mother’s at the National D-Day Memorial with a wreath laying at the Gold Star Veteran’s garden in remembrance of those mothers who have lost a son or daughter in service to their country. Help us honor the women who raised the brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their beloved country.

American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. was established in 1928 and charted by the U.S. Congress in 1984. Gold Star Mothers were originally brought together by a woman named Grace Darling Seibold, who had lost her son in World War I. Knowing that holding her grief inside would not help, Grace decided to focus her pain on continuing to help wounded soldiers in the hospital and extending a warm hand to other inconsolable mothers. Forming an organization solely for these women, Grace’s aims were not only for mothers to comfort each other, but to also continue the loving care to hospitalized veterans far from their homes. The ‘gold star’ name comes from the tradition of military families hanging a gold star in their windows in honor of a deceased veteran. The gold star completely covers the initial blue star (blue meaning active service member) and was chosen to display the honor and glory accorded the person for his/her ultimate sacrifice for his/her country.
Gold Star Mothers during World War II

The first organized meeting was June 4, 1928 in Washington, DC. “The success of our organization continues because of the bond of mutual love, sympathy, and support of the many loyal, capable, and patriotic mothers who while sharing their grief and their pride, have channeled their time, efforts and gifts to lessening the pain of others,” said one Gold Star Mother member.

As war and conflict continue, more Gold Star Mothers join the organization, seeking comfort and healing through sisterhood and philanthropy.

Take care,

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

POW/MIA Awareness Day Event - Sept. 19, 2015

Hello All!

I hope you are enjoying the beginnings of the beautiful fall season. As you know, the Memorial not only hosts a multitude of events during the summer, we also stay just as active in the fall months!

Jessica Lynch
This coming Saturday, September 19 beginning at 11 AM, the Memorial will host a special ceremony in honor of our nation's POW and MIAs.  Jessica Lynch, former U.S. Army soldier who served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq by U.S. and allied forces, will be the keynote speaker for the event. On March 23, 2003, Private First Class Lynch was serving as a unit supply specialist with the 507th Maintenance Company when her convoy was ambushed by Iraqi forces during the Battle of Nasiriyah. Lynch was seriously injured and captured. Her subsequent recovery by U.S. Special Operations Forces on April 1, 2003, received considerable media coverage and was the first successful rescue of an American prisoner of war since Vietnam and the first ever of a woman. Despite suffering from traumatic memories of such an inconceivable ordeal, Lynch continues to use her experience as strength to help others heal and raise awareness to the public.
Immediately following the ceremony, Lynch will conduct a book signing and copies of her book, I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, will be available for purchase.

Admission is free from 10 AM to Noon. Call (540) 586-3329 or visit our website at for updated information.

American Prisoners of War - Vietnam

POW/ MIA Awareness is an annual event, held on the third Friday of September that honors our prisoners of war and those still missing in action. It is a day in which the government reinforces its commitment to account for those brave service members who sacrificed their lives for their country. It is important to remember to honor these service members and not just memorialize them. To many family members, the hope for their loved ones to return to them is still a glimmer of hope.

Here are the current POW/MIA statistics for many U.S. conflicts throughout our history:

Revolutionary War            POW – 18,152              MIA – 1,426
War of 1812                       POW – 20,000              MIA – 695
Mexican War                     POW – 46                     MIA – 238
Civil War – Union             POW/MIA – 194,743
                    Confederacy   POW/MIA – 214,865
Spanish-American War      POW – 8                       MIA – 72
World War I                       POW/MIA – 7,470
World War II                      POW – 124,079             MIA – 30,314
Cold War Era                      POW – Classified          MIA – 343
Korean War                         POW – 7,140                MIA – 8,025
Vietnam War                       POW – 766                   MIA – 1,719
Persian Gulf War                POW – 29                      MIA – 21       

Somalia                               POW – 6                        MIA – 2 

I hope you all will join us this coming Saturday to honor our nation's POW and MIAs.

Take Care,

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Vote for Virginia's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts

Hello everyone,

It has been a busy season at the Memorial and we are excited to announce that voting will open on August 1st for this years Virginia's Top 10 Endangered Artifact.  This is an excellent program and one that we are happy participate in.  For the 2015 season, we have submitted a relatively new object to our collection - a 1942 Dodge WC-53 Carryall.

This 1942 Dodge WC-53 Carryall was designed for the US Army as a Command Car.  One of only 8,400 manufactured between 1942 and April 1943, this vehicle would have been used in 1942.  After the war, it was used as a family vehicle.  The National D-Day Memorial received this donation as a Gift of the Skelly Family in Memory of David Skelly, a longtime supporter of the Memorial.  Included with the truck were 2 jerry cans and all the tools which would have been on the back of the truck.  The immediate concern for the truck is preservation.  Being an outdoor site, we are concerned with the effects the elements have on the truck and are actively searching for ways to secure the vehicle on-site.  A minimal amount of conservation work will need to be completed on the interior of the truck – looking mainly at the floor and dash. 

Pieces of equipment like this have unique significance on the Second World War because it was a total war.  Military vehicles were produced in factories that once made bicycles and refrigerators.  Ten percent of working-aged women in the United States had entered the factories to support their men on the frontlines and do their part in the war effort; and children were collecting scrap metal and other materials that would be needed to make all necessary military equipment.  This truck – while it looks like a simple command vehicle – actually serves as a story to the war production effort and the support of the homefront to the frontlines, and help secure Allied victory. 

Ready for shipment to England, Newport News 1943
Click here to vote and learn more about all of the interesting artifacts selected this year. Please vote early and vote often for this artifact!