I trust you all have been enjoying your summer thus far, despite the heat and stormy weather. Also, I hope everyone was able to enjoy the fireworks display in Bedford over July 4th, it was a spectacular sight!!
If you are looking for a fun, educational and exciting weekend activity, look no further than the National D-Day Memorial. We will be hosting our annual Family Day Event, generously sponsored by the Woodmen of the World of Virginia, on Saturday, July 18, 10AM-5PM. Families will be able to meet over a dozen World War II veterans from the 8th Air Force, the 29th Infantry Division, Merchant Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, and other military units. These brave veterans will be situated in the education tent until 1PM to meet with you and share their wartime experiences.
|D-Day Veteran signing a veterans poster, Family Day 2014.|
One such veteran is D-Day paratrooper Norwood Thomas. Thomas joined the U.S. Army in March 1942 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division where his first combat mission was to parachute into Normandy, just 4 miles inland of Utah Beach, on 6 June 1944. Not only did he survive the Invasion of Normandy, but he also rode a Waco CG-4A troop transport glider into Holland as part of Operation Market Garden and fought in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. Meeting a man such as Norwood Thomas is humbling and unique experience nowadays. It is vitally important for us to honor and remember our veterans while they are still with us so that their legacies will be passed on to future generations. Don't miss out on your opportunity to meet a true American hero.
Not only will Norwood Thomas be sharing his heroic narrative, but also B-17 gunners, radio operators, Higgins boat drivers, and men who served in the Navy in both the Pacific and European theaters. "We encourage people to visit our WWII veterans at this event," stated April Cheek-Messier, President of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation. "We are losing them at an alarming rate of 492 a day according to Veterans Administration statistics. Over 16 million served during WWII and just over 800,000 are still with us today. Now is the time to say thank you and hear their stories. They are a national treasure," she added. To guarantee your visit with these remarkable men, be sure to make your way to the education tent before 1PM.
|Dedicated D-Day volunteers having some fun at the 2014 Family Day Event.|
Family Day is a uniquely interactive event for visitors of all ages to experience life during World War II. Since this year is the 70th Anniversary of the end of WWII, the main focus of the event will spotlight the twelve Allied nations involved in D-Day. Guests will be able to explore artifacts, converse with living historians, view military vehicles and equipment, partake in craft making, and more. Twenty-five activity stations will be throughout the site including stations on WWII propaganda, medics, WWII aircraft, Victory Gardens, V-mail, the home-front, and so much more! Local authors Franz Beisser (Time and Place: The Making of an Immigrant and Red Solstice) and Zoe Myers (We Two: A Story of War and Love) will be on site with their books available for purchase. Guided tours of the Memorial will take place throughout the day and depart from the deck of the Gift Store.
|Recently donated authentic WWII Command Jeep.|
New this year: the Memorial has partnered with the Red Cross to "Pack the Command Car" with non-perishable food and supplies for our U.S. troops serving overseas. Just like during WWII, our servicemen and women need our support in any form we can provide. If possible, please bring one or more of the following items; TRAVEL SIZE personal hygiene products such as shampoo, soap, shaving cream, deodorant, body wash, foot lotion, non-aerosol insect repellent, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, lip balm, and sunscreen. Other items include Individual Size food supplies such as hard candies, cookies, rice krispie treats, snack cakes, granola bars, power-bars, nuts, chips, pretzels, trail mix, crackers, Cheez-Its, and cheese spreads. DVDs (movies) and international phone cards are also appreciated. The Red Cross will ensure all shipping and handling of donated items overseas is taken care of and will also host a station for guests to write "V" mail to military personnel currently serving.
A big thanks goes out to our generous sponsor, Woodmen of the World of Virginia. Woodmen of the World lodges from all over the state will be volunteering during the event. Thanks to their kind donation, students 18 and under will be admitted free to the event. Adults are $10 per person; veterans are $8; active military service members are free as part of the Blue Star Museum program. All proceeds benefit education initiatives of the Memorial. Please visit www.dday.org or call (540) 586-3329 for more information about the event.
Take care and hope to see you all on Saturday!