Press Releases

Warner, Webb Introduce Bill to Protect Bedford's National D-Day Memorial

~Legislation is First Step Toward Becoming A National Park~

Jun 08 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Jim Webb today introduced legislation that would authorize the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to study whether the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, can be added to the U.S. National Park System. The non-profit National D-Day Memorial Foundation recently announced that it does not have enough money to sustain operations through the end of the year. 

If approved, this legislation would direct the Department of Interior to conduct a feasibility study on incorporating the Memorial into the U.S. National Park Service, allowing the Park Service to take charge of day-to-day operations at the Memorial. Similar legislation, H.R. 2689, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week by Virginia Reps. Tom Perriello, Rick Boucher, Jim Moran, Glenn Nye and Bobby Scott. 

“While we have monuments and memorials in big cities like Washington or Richmond, I think it also is appropriate to have memorials located in our smaller communities across America,” said Senator Warner. “The story of Bedford’s overwhelming sacrifice on D-Day is representative of many small towns across the nation, and Park Service stewardship of the Memorial will ensure that this sacrifice continues to occupy a permanent and prominent place in the story of America.”

“As one who grew up in the military, was privileged to serve, and who remains proud of the service of my son and my son-in-law, I share the commitment of stewardship felt by so many in Bedford for the sacrifices made on D-Day,” said Senator Webb. “It is my hope that this study will put the National D-Day Memorial, which is an important part of both Virginia and our nation’s cultural history, on track to be a part of the U.S. National Park System.”

Congress designated Bedford as the site of the nation’s National D-Day Memorial in 1996 in recognition of the 19 Virginia Army National Guard members from Bedford who died in the first wave that landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.  With a 1944 population of  3,200 people, Bedford is believed to have suffered the highest per-capita loss of life of any American community on D-Day.  

The D-Day Memorial was dedicated on June 6, 2001, by President George W. Bush.  Since then, the Memorial has attracted over one-million visitors – 50 percent of them visiting from out of state – and more than 10,000 students participate in the Memorial’s educational programs each year.  

“The foundation is extremely gratified that on the 65th anniversary of D-Day, our legislators have seen fit to introduce a long overdue measure to place the National D-Day Memorial under the umbrella of the National Park Service,” said Col. William A. McIntosh, President of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation. “This memorial is national in scope—indeed, over half its annual visitation is from outside Virginia—but it remains an important chapter in the history of Central Virginia, the region in our nation that experienced some of the severest losses of World War II.”