Thursday, March 23, 2006

Julia and I left Doris's on Wednesday morning. Doris had made us up a "to go" bag that had two waters, two cokes, and two of many more food items. We eventually ate it all. This is such a good idea for house guests. When we drove through Roanoke on the way back home a week later, Julia asked "Do you thing if we went by Doris's she would give us another of those sacks!"

We stopped first at Bedford, Virginia, at the National D-Day Memorial. Why is the memorial there? During World War II Bedford was a small town of 3200 people, yet in the first two hours of the landing at Normandy they lost 22 men. Other so-called Bedford boys survived and some still live there today.

They drive you around the memorial in golf cart things, and explain the memorial and D-Day. Usually a tour is about 30 minutes. Our tour was at least an hour and a half and it went by quickly.

Julia and I were the only ones on the tour and it was led by the assistant superindendent of the memorial. He is a native of Bedford but was only a boy during the war. He knew the ones killed and knows the ones still living and his stories are amazing and heart rending.

There was a small flag stuck near where the statue of Eisenhower is to be erected later this year. The flag was in honor of a Bedford boy who had just died. He had survived the D-Day landing those many years ago and his wish was to die at the memorial. He went there every day.

However, one night he had a heart attack at home and was sent to the hospital. There he tore the IVs out, left, and started walking toward the memorial. The police tried to pick him up but he would only go with him if they would take him for a last drive around the memorial. They did and he died in the hospital but his funeral procession made that same circle drive.

There was a set of twins from Bedford, Roy and Ray, there on D-Day. Roy and Ray were in one of those landing crafts about to get on the beach. Roy stuck his hand out to shake hands with his twin Ray. Ray told him no, they would shake hands on the beach.

Roy was killed seconds after landing. Ray survived D-Day but he became wild and reckless. He would run out from his lines, unprotected, and start shooting at the Germans. Finally, they told him that if he didn't quit, they would have to send him home. Most would do anything to go home, but he changed his behavior to stay.

Ray still lives in Bedford.

Our guide, Cliff, said that one time the lady at the ticket office, who has a clear view of the Overload arch, called him at his office to tell him that guests were worried because there was a man lying on a bench under the arch.

He went out to see what was going on but the man insisted that he was okay and was curt about it.

Shortly the lady called again and said people were upset that he hadn't helped the man. He went back and talked further to him.

He said the man started telling him what happened at D-Day and told it very vividly. Cliff said, "Then ytou were there." The man replied, You don't understand. I was on the other side. I was shooting at your forces as they landed.

He said, "I'm dying and I came here to apologise." He was alternately apologetic and bellgerent as he talked.

Another man stood over to the side, his cab driver. The German had flown to New York and taken a New York taxi to Virginia.

If you ever get anywhere near southwestern Virginia, you must go to this.

By the way, the Americans started planning the invasion with the code name Minnie Pearl. However, Churchill thought that inappropriate and changed it to Overlord.

We left Bedford and headed to Appomattox Courthouse.

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