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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Change is Upon Us!

Hello All,
Beautiful day at the Memorial, 11/11/14
I would like to begin this post by saying thank you to all those who joined us for the National D-day Memorial’s Veteran’s Day celebration! It was a great success and it was heartwarming to see so many supporters come to the site to honor our brave veterans.

Now that our events season is beginning to wind-down for the winter (do not forget our Luminary Project), the Memorial has exciting news to share, WE’RE MOVING! Have no fear, the physical site of the Memorial will remain the same; however, the Foundation’s office location will change. The D-Day Memorial Foundation has made the conscious decision to move our office down the street to a building more suitable for our growing needs.  

Veterans Day, 2014
Since our dedication on June 6, 2001, the growth of the Memorial has been outstanding.  Because of that increase, we have joyfully out grown our current office.  In addition, our collection has increased extensively in recent years and it is our priority to share our exciting finds and donations with the public! In the new office, we will showcase our fine artifacts in a display case on the main level, front and center. The items will be rotated periodically to ensure everything has equal stage time and to keep it interesting for your viewing pleasure. Education is a pillar of the Foundation’s mission and every detail counts in our book. Showcasing artifacts and information is one of the various ways we can teach the public about the importance of D-Day and the impact it has on the nation. We encourage you to visit our office and view our beautiful relics.
Piece of the Gerchkoff collection, donated to the National D-Day Memorial in 1998.

The move will take place the week of Thanksgiving. It is important to mention that this move would not be made possible without the support of all those who are connected with the Memorial. Your care and support make our mission successful and our growth possible. It seems appropriate for us to move during a time of thanks and renewal. It is the beginning of the next chapter for the Memorial; a time of continued growth and development.
This battle flag, in our collection, was carried ashore by members of the 299th Combat Engineer Battalion, Company B on June 6, 1944 on D-Day.

The new address is 133 West Main Street, Bedford, Virginia. Our contact information will remain the same.

Take care,

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Luminary Project and D-Day Fallon

Hello All!

Veterans Day at the Memorial, 11/11/14
I hope you all have thanked numerous Veterans today! As John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” I could not agree more with JFK; he is saying that we thank our soldiers for being valiant and courageous, but sometimes forget what that truly entails. Also, we should strive to exhibit the values we hold so dear. As a whole, we all need to remember that we can always do more and put our words into action. Since the holiday season is upon us, it is a great reminder of what we can do for others; a time to show our appreciation properly. There are many ways to get involved with the Memorial and in the community; all you have to do is ask.

Veterans Day Ceremony, 11/11/14
The next event coming up is our Luminary Project, held December 12-14, 2014, 6pm to 9pm. The Luminary Project honors the 4,413 men killed on D-Day. As evening approaches, the flames of memory come alive throughout the site, from the drive leading up to the Memorial, throughout the grounds, and interwoven in the Elmon T. Gray Plaza; each blazing luminary igniting the lamp of freedom.

My first luminary experience was last year, and let me tell you, it was both outstanding and haunting. It is one of those occasions that will put the loss of D-Day into raw perspective. Each light signifying a lost soul for the ultimate sacrifice that helped us win the war for the Allied nations. It is truly a site to see for all ages. I encourage and implore you to join us throughout the weekend; you will not regret one moment here.

Luminary night at the D-Day Memorial
If you would like to get more involved; Lumaries are sold throughout the year, even up to that week, and are displayed from December 12-14. Each luminary costs $20, or six for $100, and they can be purchased in honor or memory of anyone of your choosing, D-Day veteran or not. Remember, all proceeds benefit the Memorial and business or organizations are more than welcome to purchase quantities.

In honor of the Flames of Memory, I would like to share a little bit about one of the Fallon Bedford Boys, Nick Gillaspie.

D-Day Fallon: Nick N. Gillaspie

Nick N. Gillaspie
Private First Class
Company A, 116th IRB, 29th Infantry Division
PFC Nick N. Gillaspie

Nick Gillaspie was another avid Baseball player among the Bedford Boys, along with Frank Draper and Elmere Wright. He grew up with four brothers and went to a one-room schoolhouse. He was known around Bedford for his impeccable manners and kindness, as well as his rook playing skills. His Rook skills came in handy on the Queen Mary’s voyage over to England since the men had a lot of down time on the ship.

Games of any kind were important to the soldiers because it was the only way to pass the time. When they were given the chance to relax, but could not go on leave, many soldiers opt for card games, gambling games, or the book of games devised by the government. Pocket guides and game books were handed out regularly to help the soldiers pass the time and learn about the cultures they would eventually encounter.

Gillaspie is another member of the Bedford Boys we do not know much about, but we do know he was on the same LCA Wallace “Snake Eyes” Carter was on. Unfortunately, what we know of that particular LCA is that everyone perished early on in the beach landings. He has never been forgotten and never will be, just like all of our Bedford Boys.

I hope to see you all soon, take care!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Remember Veterans Day

Hello All,

Veterans Day is a week away and the Memorial is busy getting ready for the annual ceremony held at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. You won’t want to miss out this year! Not only are we honoring our veterans, we are also dedicating the new Blue Star and Gold Star bricks.

As you may remember from last years Veterans Day post and ceremony, Veterans Day is extremely important to our country and it’s legacy. It is a day to remember our Veteran’s, past and present, living or deceased. It is a time to reflect on their sacrifices made for us and honor their bravery.

Raising the flag on Iwo Jima, 1945.
Unfortunately, many people have forgotten the importance of this day, even the fact that it is Veterans Day. It used to be a time of parades and public gatherings, and a brief break from work at 11 am to reflect. Now it is a time for people to take advantage of sales and a day off from work. We have forgotten how important our Veterans are to our safety. Without them, who would protect our nation? Who would be willing to travel to unfamiliar places to defend us from what we could not do ourselves? Who would be brave enough to do their duty despite the terrifying or horrible conditions they are subjected to? Our soldiers and veterans are those courageous individuals.

“The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.” – Jeff Miller

Some ways you, and your community, can honor your veterans is to participate in your local Veterans Day observances. Whether that is through a local war memorial or church organization, you could even organize a small gathering of your own. If you have children or grandchildren, teach them the importance of our Veterans and make sure they understand the magnitude of their sacrifices. Volunteering to help Veterans is also a wonderful way to show your support and care for our heroes. If you are joining the D-Day Memorial this coming Veterans Day, then bring a Veteran you may know, or bring your family. Once you are here, you can find out all the ways you can get involved in the Memorial.

Veterans Day Parade, New York City, 2011
Veterans will always be part of our society and culture. To treat them with anything other than respect would be criminal.

“The veterans of our military services have put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we enjoy. They have dedicated their lives to their country and deserve to be recognized for their commitment.” – Judd Gregg 

I hope you will join us on Tuesday, Nov. 11, at 11 am.

Take care,

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Our D-Day Fallen: Sergeant Earl L. Parker

As we move toward the holiday season, we take time to remember all our servicemen and women around the world.  At the National D-Day Memorial, we have a special holiday time season program to honor all those who never made it home. We remember all the sacrifices our servicemen and women make everyday, and the sacrifices made by their families. Join us for our special nighttime presentation from December 12-14, 2014 entitled Flames of Memory, where4,413 luminaries around the site are lit in memory of the Allied forces who were killed in action on June 6, 1944 - men like that of Bedford Boy Sergeant Earl Parker.

Growing up on a 300-acre beef farm, Earl Parker began working at the Piedmont Label Company, which printed labels for canned foods, after graduating from Bedford High School. He was one of three brothers – all of whom would experience combat during the war.  Younger brother Billy recalled that Earl enjoyed playing baseball and hunting.

In 1939, twenty-six-year-old Parker was a private first class in Company A.  Parker was a lighthearted young man who was madly in love with nineteen-year-old Viola Shrader, one of the prettiest and most popular girls in all of Bedford. The two were married in 1940 and shortly after Earl left their daughter, Danny, was born.

Like other wives, Viola did what she could to remain positive while her husband was away.  To his end, Parker did everything he could to get back home to visit his bride.  Anytime he would have leave, he would try to carpool with anyone headed home. Viola wrote to her husband all the time.  She tried to stress the positives, even though life without Earl was getting tougher every day.

Like many women, Viola moved back to her parents’ home with her baby. By day, she worked on her family farm and at night, she slept in her childhood room and fell asleep listening to the nightly radio news shows.

At the beginning of the invasion, the Javelin moved out in to the Channel and Roy and Ray Stevens stood at the rail with Earl Parker. Parker took the photo of his daughter Danny out of his pocket and said, “If I could see her just once, I wouldn't mind dying.”

In mid-July, Viola received one of the first Western Union telegrams to be delivered of the Company A fatalities from June 6, 1944. It confirmed her worst fears, Earl was missing in action. She recalled, “You’re so hit that you don’t cry, you don’t do anything. I thought, ‘Well I better dust.’…I dusted the whole house.”  Afterwards, Viola took Danny in her arms, left the house, and walked towards the Peaks of Otter—the same place where she and Earl had courted.  There she wondered what she was going to do now that her love was gone, but she also told Danny “we’re going to make it.”

After the war and the men returned home, Viola went on search for answers.  Eventually, she visited Ray Nance telling him to tell her what happened because she did not believe he was dead.  Nance told her that Parker had been hit by a mortar shell and his body had been washed out to the English Channel, never to be recovered. She was comforted in knowing that Earl had died instantly without pain. The one thing that Viola had was her daughter, the greatest of parting gifts. Viola said, “She was an inspiration to go out and do something instead of sitting around crying all day.”

In 1954, Danny, eleven-years-old, unveiled a tribute to the Bedford Boys that sits at the old Bedford High School, today’s middle school. She knew the story of her local National Guard Company and knew that her daddy was a part of the largest amphibious invasion to take place in history, the invasion that allowed the Allies to start moving across Europe to end the war in May 1945. 

**If you would like to learn more about Flames of Memory or make a donation to honor/remember a serviceman or woman, please click here. Help us ensure everyone is remembered this holiday season. 

Until next time,