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The 70th anniversary of D-Day will be observed in Bedford with activities June 6-8, and the National D-Day Memorial Foundation is seeking to get the town ready in expectation of visitors from all over the world.
Last week, volunteers visited area businesses passing out copies of posters used during World War II to rally support on the homefront. Many of those posters can now be seen lining the windows of Centertown businesses, much like they would have done 70 years ago. The posters promoted a variety of homefront activities, including encouraging women to work, promoting families to plant victory gardens and urging citizens to purchase war bonds.
The 70th anniversary events are only a month away. Those happenings will include:
• The 70th Anniversary of D-Day Commemoration on Friday, June 6 at 11 a.m. The anniversary will be observed in a special ceremony at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford. During this event the Bedford Boys “Homage” sculpture by the late artist, Jim Brothers, will be dedicated. Program highlights include an honor guard, recognition of D-Day veterans, guest speakers, dignitaries including French and British representatives and special music. The commemoration will begin with a morning ceremony featuring the laying of wreaths by D-Day units. Other activities include veterans oral history stations, a USO show featuring the 29th Division Band and a “Salute to Sinatra” at 1:30 p.m., a reunion tent, displays by living historians, a flyover and a parachute jump by the Golden Knights.
• Outdoor Movie Night and Canteen, Friday, June 6. The public is invited to the Memorial for an outdoor movie night with a 1940s theme. The Canteen will offer the best of period refreshments and the featured film will be “Casablanca.” The film begins at dusk.
• D-Day Parade, Saturday, June 7 at 10 a.m. The community of Bedford will host the 1940s parade featuring antique cars, bands, veterans and living historians. At 11 a.m,. a bell will toll marking the 19 from Bedford killed on June 6, 1944. Walking tours will be available for those interested in visiting some of the more famous Bedford Boys sites as mentioned in Alex Kershaw’s award winning book “The Bedford Boys: One American Town’s Ultimate Sacrifice.”
• Tommy Dorsey Orchestra performance, on Saturday, June 7 at the National D-Day Memorial at 7 p.m. This event is guaranteed to be a fun filled night that will transport you back to the 1940s. Advance tickets are on sale now. Tickets are $25 per person in advance or $30 at the door. Call 540-586-3329.
• Veterans’ History Project at National D-Day Memorial, June 6-7. D-Day veterans attending 70th Anniversary events were invited to contact the Foundation in advance to schedule an interview to have their wartime experiences recorded as part of the Veterans History Project. The Memorial is seeking oral histories from veterans of Operation Overlord and civilians on the homefront with memories of D-Day. Interviews will be recorded on DVD and housed in the archives of the National D-Day Memorial for use in educational programming. Interviews will be conducted throughout the day June 6 and June 7; preregistration was required.
• Field Chapel Service, Sunday, June 8 at 11 a.m. Conclude the 70th anniversary observance with an authentic WWII field chapel ecumenical service.