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They were farmers, baseball players, factory workers.
They had girlfriends—they enjoyed using the dollar they earned at National Guard meetings to buy popcorn and share a drink at the movies.
The got Bibles for Christmas; they shot pool.
And they gave their all for their country.
Friday marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when this nation’s best stormed the beaches of Normandy. And in the first wave were the best and brightest of Bedford.
It would be a battle for the ages; an advance that would change the course of history.
But it would come at a great price.
Operation Overlord would leave thousands dead; no community would feel that sacrifice more than Bedford.
Nineteen of its finest young men would fall in the first minutes of the landing; others would fall in the hours and days that would follow.
Two brothers would be lost; another brother would lose his twin.
Many of the men landing that day would never even make it to the beach. Many of those who did would never make it off that beach alive.
Months would go into the planning, but no planning could prepare these men for what they were about to face.
It was a horror that cannot be described; it was a horror those who were there, and survived, didn’t talk about that often.
It was unprecedented, the largest amphibious invasion of all time.
Those on the homefront read the headlines: The Invasion Begins.
They listened to the radio where ever they were for news. They met in their churches to pray.
It was June 6, 1944, a day now etched in the annals of history. It was a day that changed the world; it was a day that changed a nation; it was a day that changed countless communities—and the families living in those communities—across this nation.
It would take weeks to begin to get the full picture of what had happened.
The telegrams began to be delivered; newspaper headlines began to report the losses. Mothers wept for their lost sons.
The tide of the War had turned, but it came at a great cost.
Let us never forget those sacrifices, never take that valor and bravery for granted—let us never waste the freedoms that Bedford’s finest helped preserve.