Saturday, Feb 23, 2008
We were surprised to find the National D-Day Memorial located at Bedford,Virginia only a few miles north of Smith Mountain Lake. Bedford suffered the loss of 19 of its young men from a population of 3,200 on June 6, 1944 during the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy.
Proportionately, Bedford lost more men than any other town in the United States and as a result it was chosen as the site of this monument.
Plan to spend some time here. There are 57 bronze plaques that list all of the deaths on June 6, 1944. There are separate plaques for each of the units involved. I paused a bit longer at the 1st Division plaque since I wore that division patch for several months in Vietnam. The whole site is very well done and deserves a lot more visitors.
From Bedford, we moved on to Appomattox and the site of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virgina by General Robert E. Lee to General Ulysses S. Grant.
I have a particular interest in this site since my great-great-grandfather, Jasper W. Sawyer was with Lee and was one of the soldiers issued a parole to guarantee safe-passage home.
I am still looking for a copy of the original list of paroles. There were two copies. One is in the national archives and the second is in a location that I have yet to determine. I was unable to find the location of that second list while here.
The actual site of the initial surrender meeting is the McClean House. Follow the link for an interesting discussion of the history of the property including dismantling and reconstruction.
And of course, our visit to any state must include a visit to the Capitol building and a picture of one of us with the building. The capital of Virginia is located in Richmond, a fairly large city. The capitol building sits atop a hill with a large grounds and several interesting statues since many of the founding fathers were Virginians. It is worth noting that for most of the duration of the Civil War, this building also served as the capitol of the Confederacy.