Hallowed Ground – The National D-Day Memorial

Today, as you no doubt already know, is the anniversary of D-Day. Recently one of our crew visited the D-Day Memorial. This is his pictorial essay and notes. We figured you might want to see it.

Today’s look at the D Day Memorial and Operation Overlord is brought to you in its entirety by Daniel Defense.

 

Valor, Fidelity, Sacrifice. Moving forward from the beachhead toward final victory in Europe.

Hallowed Ground: The National D-Day Memorial – A Photo Essay

Bucky Lawson

Seventy-three years ago today, the Allies returned to France. Just after daybreak, elements of the US 1st, 4th, and 29th Infantry Divisions, along with the 2nd Ranger Battalion, hit OMAHA and UTAH Beaches on the Normandy coast. To their east, the British 3rd and 50th Infantry Divisions landed on SWORD and GOLD Beaches, respectively. The 3rd Canadian Division assaulted JUNO Beach. As we know, it was the most ambitious amphibious operation ever mounted, and possibly the most complex military op of any war in history.

So pivotal was Operation OVERLORD to Allied success in the West, that the common operational designation “D-Day” became forever associated with 6 June, 1944. The National D-Day Memorial commemorates that momentous day. The Memorial is fittingly sited in Bedford, Virginia, a town bearing the dubious distinction of losing twenty of her sons that day, the highest per capita loss of any town in America on D-Day. It’s an out-of-the way location, set in the hauntingly peaceful Blue Ridge Mountains.

In honor of the anniversary of the sacrifice of the men of D-Day, it seems appropriate to bring attention to this sometimes overlooked, but extremely well-done monument.

Looking toward the arch from the Folly. Note the unit insignia of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) on the wall directly ahead.
The SHAEF insignia over General Eisenhower’s famous address to the troops. Because of strict radio silence, the address was given to each man on a sheet of paper. Many survived the war, having been carried by the soldiers through Europe and back home.
The English Garden from the wall over the SHAEF insignia. The English Garden is laid out to look like the insignia from above, with the flaming sword as the centerpiece. Flowers provide the color, though they hadn’t yet fully bloomed when this photo was taken.
The English Garden from ground level.
The monument to the “Bedford Boys,” most of whom hit OMAHA Beach in the first wave with Company A, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. They had never seen combat before.

The Invasion Plaza, commemorating the crossing of the English Channel and the assault on the beaches. The Plaza is divided into five segments, one for each invasion beach.
The Necrology Walls form the eastern and western boundaries of the Invasion Plaza. The west wall, shown here, records the name of each American who was killed on 6 June.
The eastern Necrology Wall, containing the names of every Allied soldier killed on 6 June.

The Invasion Pool, complete with steel “hedgehogs,” shown from the east. Underwater jets shoot water up at random intervals, simulating bullets striking the surface.
The Invasion Pool. Note the German blockhouses commanding the beach, as they did at OMAHA.
The sculpture Through the Surf, with the Higgins Boat.
The sculpture Death on the Shore, the detail of which is powerful. The sculpture is said to be of Raymond Hoback of Bedford. His friends saw him fall at the water’s edge, but his body was never recovered. Only his personal bible was found. The sculpture shows a small bible falling out of his pack. Raymond’s brother, Bedford Hoback, was killed later in the day. Their mother insisted he be buried in the American cemetery in Normandy, saying that he would never want to be separated from his brother. I recently had the pleasure of meeting the Hoback brothers’ nephew, who volunteers at the Memorial.
Scaling the Wall. The waterfall lends the sound of crashing surf to the scene, fittingly making conversation difficult. This sculpture commemorates the 2nd Rangers’ climbing of the cliff at Pointe du Hoc, overlooking OMAHA Beach. Scaling the Wall incorporates the Memorial’s motto: Valor, Fidelity, Sacrifice. The soldier topping the cliff represents Valor. The soldier helping his buddy below represents Fidelity. The soldier falling after being wounded represents Sacrifice.
Victory Plaza, dominated by the great granite triumphal arch. Crowning the arch are five capstones, one for each invasion beach, painted with the black and white recognition stripes of the Allied aircraft which took part in the operation. Just below the capstones, chiseled in gold letters, is the operation’s codename: OVERLORD.
Looking northwest through the OVERLORD Arch with the Peaks of Otter in the distance.
The topmost soldier of Scaling the Wall, representing Valor.
View of the Invasion Plaza from the top of Scaling the Wall. The Folly is visible in the background.
The motto of the National D-Day Memorial.
Valor, Fidelity, Sacrifice; the OVERLORD Arch seen from the front of Victory Plaza.
Victory Plaza from the south.
Left and right; possibly the most poignant sculpture of the Memorial: The Lady of Trevieres (see informational plaque below. Center, our flag at half mast at the D-Day Memorial.
The history of the Lady of Trevieres.
The Gold Star Family Memorial Garden.

The National D-Day Memorial is located just off US 460 in Bedford, Virginia, about 25 miles east of Roanoke. If you’re in the area, it is well worth the trip. The photos here do not do it justice. Guided tours are available and there are lots of special programs held throughout the year. Visit the Memorial’s website at www.dday.org.

Final Tribute. This sculpture stands on the north side of the arch, in honor of the fallen.
Brought to you by Daniel Defense – LIGHTER, STRONGER, BETTER.

Recommended reading:

The Bedford Boys by Alex Kershawhttp://amzn.to/2se3Awu

The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan

Cross-Channel Attack by Gordon Harrison (This edition features a full set of first class pull-out maps)

Six Armies in Normandy by John Keegan

D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose

-Bucky Lawson

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About the Author: William “Bucky” Lawson has had a thing for military history since the sixth grade when he picked up a book about WorldWar I fighter aces. Since then he has studied Bucky-napping-with-his-dogwarriors from Ancient Greece to the modern day, with a special emphasis on World War II. He’s a member of the Saber & Scroll Historical Society, the Historical Studies Honor Society, the Society for Military History, and Pi Gamma Mu (that’s not an Asian stripper- it’s the International Honor Society in Social Sciences). He has an unabashed love of the USA, military surplus bolt action rifles, AK-47s, and Walther handguns. He despises incabination and likes hamburgers, dogs, and cigars, but really who doesn’t? Sissies and vegans, that’s who. Bucky contributes to Strategy & Tactics Press, has a Masters Degree in Military History, and will probably proclaim himself an academic and wear one of those jackets with the patches on the elbows soon. Could be he’ll run down a PhD, maybe he’ll go hunting instead — Bucky likes the charred flesh of something that once had a parent, especially if he killed it himself. He is currently trying to figure out a way to export Texas politics to his native Virginia. Breach-Bang-Clear readers who talk to Bucky will be happy to know he’s only half the redneck he sounds and really isn’t inbred at all. Or not too much anyway, which is why he gets along so well with our other polrumptions. You can find historical bibliognost on Linked In here.

[Grunts: bibliognost; oh, and polrumption…oh hell, and incabination too. 


3 thoughts on “Hallowed Ground – The National D-Day Memorial

  • June 8, 2017 at 10:14 pm
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    Thank you SO much for sharing this. I have had the honor of visiting Normandy but did not know about this memorial that is within driving distance of where I live now. It is on my list of things to do this summer.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2017 at 11:21 pm
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    I lived in Virginia off and on for 14 years of my life and I never knew of this memorial. Rest assured, I will be visiting next time I’m in the Commonwealth. Thank you for the great photos.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2017 at 12:21 pm
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    I’m sorry to admit I had no idea such a memorial existed. Thank you for making this known.

    Reply

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