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Bedford Memorial Stands Tall For Soldiers Of Normandy

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BEDFORD, VA — Bedford is a tiny farming town nestled in the mountains in Virginia. It is not a place often discussed in World War II history lessons, but it should be. The little farming community sent 35 men to Normandy. Only 12 returned, and Bedford lost a higher percentage of men to the war then any other town in the country. Wednesday, Bedford dedicated a monument to the soldiers of D-Day in a ceremony at which President Bush spoke, and which drew world-wide attention.

The monument recreates the landing. Bronze soldiers claw through the concrete beach and climb over a wall. Past the wall, there is a granite arch with the word "Overlord," the code name for the invasion, carved into the face. It is 44 feet, 6 inches high, symbolizing the day of the invasion.

D-Day veterans, many of whom trained at Fort Bragg, attended the ceremony, and so did their children and grandchildren, including the president of Peace College, Dr. Laura Bingham, whose father survived the assault.

"I think today is just another one of those moments to celebrate," Bingham says, "both to memorialize those who lost their lives on the beaches, but very importantly those who are still with us and lived to tell about it."

"You didn't think you'd make it," one veteran said of the invasion, "and a lot of them didn't."

Efforts to build the memorial started seven years ago, and $13.6 million later, it stands tall, honoring the sacrifices of thousands of brave men who stepped from their landing crafts and ran into the teeth of the German military, 57 years ago Wednesday.