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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Remember their Sacrifice

Hello All,

Alex Kersaw with Elizabeth and Felicia, NDDMF Staff
The staff at the National D-Day Memorial Foundation (NDDMF) would like to thank all those who came to the Memorial to support America’s veterans, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It was impressive to see so many individuals and families honoring our fallen veterans. We are happy to report that about 1,100 people were in attendance for the Memorial Day Ceremony. Our keynote speaker, Mr. Alex Kersaw, author of The Bedford Boys, truly captured the heart and soul of Memorial Day with his poignant reminder of why it is vital to continue honoring the legacy of those who sacrificed before us and those who will continue to protect our freedoms.
Alex and April laying flowers down at Leslie Abbott's grave.

After the ceremony, Alex and our NDDMF President, April Cheek Messier, spent the afternoon at the Oakwood and Greenwood Cemeteries, paying tribute to our fallen Bedford Boys. They, along with family members of the Bedford Boys, placed flowers at each grave site. This is the first year the Bedford International Alliance has coordinated such a moving tribute to our fallen heroes, having been inspired to do so after visiting Normandy for the 70th Anniversary last year.

The next event for the National D-Day Memorial is, of course, the 71st Anniversary of D-Day on Saturday 6 June 2015 and will be an event you most certainly will not want to miss!

Message from the President, April Cheek Messier,

“The National D-Day Memorial Foundation will commemorate the 71st anniversary of D-Day with a full day of activities including special music, wreath-layings, a veteran’s reunion tent, living history, and a twilight remembrance in the evening. The ceremony begins at 11 AM on Saturday, June 6th. Representatives from France, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom will be in attendance to lay wreaths, as well as representatives from various D-Day service units.

Memorial Day 2015
The keynote speaker for the program is Dame Mary Sigillo Barraco. Barraco was an American teenager living in Belgium when World War II broke out in Europe. Barraco was fluent in French, English, Flemish, Italian, and German which would serve her well in the years to come. Shortly after the war began, she joined a Resistance Group known as the “Freedom Fighters” and was responsible for aiding downed allied pilots, hiding Jewish citizens, and sneaking supplies to those held in Nazi prisons and detention camps. Barraco and her fiancĂ© were eventually betrayed for the equivalent of $12 by a Belgian partisan. They were subsequently captured and subjected to savage torture by the Gestapo. Her fiancĂ© was later executed.  Barraco’s message will center on tolerance, responsibly, and never taking freedom for granted.

The U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard Silent Drill Team will also perform during the June 6th ceremony. Based out of Alexandria, Virginia, the Silent Drill Team travels extensively throughout the nation performing for thousands of citizens and dignitaries at parades, festivals, and military functions. The members of the Silent Drill Team also carry out ceremonial duties for the Military District of Washington at venues such as the White House, Pentagon, and Arlington National Cemetery. The Coast Guard Silent Drill Team exemplifies the Ceremonial Honor Guard’s time-honored values of pride, poise, and perfection.

A moving addition will be music provided by the 29th Division band which will feature the legendary Colonel Arnald D. Gabriel as guest conductor. Col. Gabriel was a combat machine gunner with the 29th Infantry Division in Europe during World War II. He received two Bronze Star Medals, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the French Croix de Guerre.

The National D-Day Memorial
Col. Gabriel served as Commander/Conductor of the internationally renowned U.S. Air Force Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Singing Sergeants from 1964 to 1985. His 21 year tenure was the longest in that organization’s history. Col. Gabriel retired from the United States Air Force in 1985 following a distinguished 36 year military career, at which time he was awarded his third Legion of Merit for his service to the United States Air Force and to music education throughout the country. In 1990, he was named the first Conductor Emeritus of the USAF Band at a special concert held at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. In 2008, the USAF Band dedicated the Arnald D. Gabriel Hall in his honor, and Bands of America inducted Col. Gabriel into its Hall of Fame. Col. Gabriel has performed in all 50 of the United States and in 50 countries around the world.

After the Memorial’s ceremony, which will conclude around noon, a patriotic concert will follow. The Enduring Freedom Honor Team from Fredericksburg, Virginia will perform from 12:30 to 1:15 PM. The group consists of high school students dressed in WWII era uniforms playing period music. From 1:30 to 2:30 PM, the 29th Division band will conduct a full performance with Col. Gabriel in the Memorial’s main plaza. Food will be available on site throughout the day, providing guests an opportunity to meet World War II veterans under the veteran reunion tent.
Admission is free throughout the day and the Memorial will remain open until 9:00 PM.  For the evening, the Memorial is hosting a Twilight Remembrance with a portion of the 29th Division Band playing 7:30 PM to closing. The band will end the evening with the sounding of Taps.

Please join the National D-Day Memorial for the 71st anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2015. D-Day and World War II veterans and their families are asked to call ahead for VIP parking passes and reserved seating. For more information or updates, visit or call (540) 586-3329. This event is generously sponsored by AREVA, Winoa USA/W Abrasives, Freedom Aviation, and Financial Designs.”

I hope to see you all there!

Take Care,


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend Concert: Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hello All,
You won’t want to miss our big Memorial Day Weekend Concert featuring the Jefferson Choral Society and the Let’s Dance Band this coming Saturday, May 23, 2015! Both bands will be performing patriotic songs that will stir feelings of celebration and commemoration for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Guests will also be treated to the sounds of Big Band era music and a tribute to the English rock-n-roll sensation, The Beatles!

The Let’s Dance band will kick off the evening at 7:00 PM, followed by The Jefferson Choral Society at 8:00 PM. The Memorial will remain open until 10:00 PM. Tickets will be available at the D-Day ticket kiosk inside the Bedford Area Welcome Center or by phone at (540) 586-3329. Adults: $8:00 in advance or $10.00 at the door; students ages 6-18: $5.00 in advance or $7.00 at the door. Children under 6 are free. Bring your own chair. No coolers or pets and please bring cash, there are no ATMs on site.


The Beatles

Beatlemania coming to America.
The Beatles took the world by storm in the 1960s, beginning in their homeland of Great Britain and then moving to the United States. Their music was so unique, so inventive, so artistically creative people had no choice but to stop and listen to the energetic boys from across the pond.

Made up of four young men; Paul McCartney, bass, Ringo Starr, drums, George Harrison, guitar lead, and John Lennon, rhythm guitar, The Beatles created a limitless variety of sounds and harmonies not traditionally seen in rock music of the time. There classic sixties, sophisticated, smart style allowed them to set new standards for marketable and artistic success in rock/pop genres.

Despite hardships, chaos, and personal tragedy, The Beatles legacy has stood the test of time. Their music continues to inspire people of all ages and their timeless quality knows no bounds; their influence is palpable. The success of Beatlemania hit the world not once, but twice. In 2009, a release of re-mastered original studio performances opened up a completely new generation to their iconic music, selling over one million copies worldwide. Parents and their children alike have music to bond them together forever. 

I hope you will join to celebrate our veterans and the musical talents of the Jefferson Choral Society as their pay tribute to our heroes and The Beatles.

Take Care,

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

VE Day and Armed Forces 5K

Hello All,

In honor of our recent celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Victory in Europe (VE) Day, May 8th, and this coming weekend’s commemoration of Armed Forces Day, I thought it would be appropriate to share a story I came across in the news about a 91 year old veteran who wanted to share a bit of his past with the youth of today.
Henry ‘Duke’ Boswell, 91, enlisted into the North Carolina National Guard in 1940, when he was the tender age of 16 years young. Clearly, Duke lied about his age to enlist, even going so far as to forge his parents’ signature. One year later, war broke out in Europe, and Duke volunteered to be a paratrooper for the 82nd airborne division. Duke’s life went from small town living to action packed and danger-filled in no time flat.

“We jumped in at midnight we were fighting until two days later before the troops on the beach got up to us,” stated Duke. Duke was of course referring to the Normandy Invasion of 6 June 1944. He remembers being alone once landing on the ground and having to use his cricket to identify friend or foe. (A cricket was a metal devise that made a distinct clicking sound that resembled a cricket)

 New York City citizens celebrating VE Day in Times Square
The next major battle Duke fought in was the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest.
Duke says, “I think we probably lost more people to trench foot and frozen feet to the cold than we did to the enemy.”

Through all the hardships and horrors Duke faced, he says the worst atrocity he witnessed was the German Concentration Camps. He often thinks about what those people could have done with their lives if they were given the chance to live.

Duke’s wish is for everyone to remember the ones who fought and died to save the world we know today. We should always hold on to the memories of those who died to protect our freedoms we enjoy and hold dear, more now than ever before.


Don’t forget!!! This coming Saturday is the “We Honor Veterans” 5K Run/Walk Event to celebrate Armed Forces Day, May 16, 2015. The National D-Day Memorial and Centra-Bedford Hospice Care have come together to provide you with a fantastic morning of honoring our Veterans and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.

2014 "We Honor Veterans" 5K
Online registration, of only $25, will continue until this Friday evening, May 15 at 6 PM

Day of registration ($30) and Check-In beings at 7 AM and the Race will begin at 8 AM. The Start and Finish line is at the National D-Day Memorial- 3 Overlord Circle, Bedford, VA 24523

All proceeds will benefit veterans programs of Centra-Bedford Hospice Care and the National D-Day Memorial, both 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Individuals and teams are encouraged to sign-up and raise additional pledges to support the cause. Online registration is available at For more information, please call the main office at (540) 586-3329 or visit our website at

I hope to see you all there!

Take Care,

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Day Camp 2015

Hello All,

2014 Day Camp
Looking for a cool way to spend a hot summer day? Then join us for The National D-Day Memorial's "Growing Up in WWII" Summer Day Camp, June 24th-26th!!

If you are a 4th, 5th, or 6th grader then you are eligible to join in the festivities that make Day Camp a highlight of the year. You will be able to learn about the Allied victory in the European and Pacific theaters, celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the end of war. Come find out what caused WWII in the first place, the specific battles that took place, and the victory that changed the world. Also, learn what was happening on the home-front while our country men and women were fighting overseas.

The camp begins on June 24th through June 26th, each day beginning at 0830 and going till 1300 (1:30 PM). Students will be able to experience hands-on history with activities, crafts, period games, and ration-era snack time! They will also receive a t-shirt and souvenir!

Day Camp 2014
So, as a parent, you are asking, "What will my child gain from such an intriguing experience?" I am glad you asked!

"Growing Up in World War II" summer day camp will encourage your youngster to continue in their pursuit of knowledge and history through interactive and mindful activities. Your child(ren) will leave with a greater sense and appreciation for those of our past and present military service. At the conclusion of the wonderful camp, parents, family, and friends are invited to join us to view exhibits created by the campers, to showcase their knowledge!

Camp fees are $60.00 for the first child and $50.00 for each additional child. Fees include a camp t-shirt, craft and activity materials, daily snacks, and instruction. Space is limited, only 35 participants, and preregistration is required by June 19th. A $20.00 nonrefundable deposit is due at the time of registration.

For more information or to register, please contact the Education Department of the National D-Day Memorial by phone at (540) 586-3329. Day camp registration forms are also available online. Day Camp Event

I hope you will join us for our exciting and educational camp!

Take care,