The ultimate sacrifice of one American town

As we begin the Memorial Day weekend, I will continue with my “1944 70th Anniversary” posts while also honoring those brave Americans who have died in battle. I want to call special attention to the ultimate D-Day sacrifice of one American town — Bedford, Virginia. Population in 1944: 3,000. On June 6, 1944, landing craft dropped the boys from Bedford in the water off Normandy’s Omaha Beach, part of the first wave of American soldiers to hit the beach on D-Day. Within minutes, 19 were dead. No other town in America suffered a greater one-day loss. Later in the campaign, three more sons of Bedford died of gunshot wounds. June 6, 1944 was — and still is — Bedford, Virginia’s longest day. Because of the town’s sacrifice, the National D-Day Memorial is located in Bedford. You can visit its website, or even better, if you have a chance this summer, go in person. You can also read a great book on their story: “The Bedford Boys” by Alex Kershaw (2003). Like thousands of other American towns, Bedford will host special Memorial Day remembrances on Monday. I hope you get a chance to attend one in your town and say a special prayer of thanks for all veterans — especially for those from Bedford, a town whose finest young men gave their lives fighting for our freedom on Omaha Beach nearly 70 years ago.