National D-Day Memorial

The National D-Day Memorial announced that they are now OPEN.  It is just a three-hour one way day trip to Bedford, Virginia, that is full of gently rolling hills.  Learn more about the Memorial.

The story about the Bedford Boys is a tale of country kids who signed up for the National Guard to receive extra pay for weekend drills.  Pearl Harbor changed all of that and the men of Bedford, Virginia, was ordered to active duty and that led to a D-Day Landing.  Of the 34 men of Bedford who landed at Omaha Beach, 19 died on the beach and four more later.  There were three sets of brothers from Bedford to perish.

In 2011 a Chapel Hill High School 10th-grader, Gracian D’Cruz, asked the Chapel Hill Knights of Columbus and other  local veteran groups  to help sponsor a project to fund the National D-Day Memorial.  It was in financial trouble and local students wanted to help.  Local vets led by American Legionnaires Jerry Pilarski and Lee Heavlin worked to help the students.  Chapel Hill Veterans of Foreign Wars  Post 9100 also  provided funding and support and, in June students and veterans travelled to Bedford for the 67th D-Day Commemoration events. Gene and Louise Drogos also made the trip. 

Here is their story. 

“The kids decided to honor all veterans by raising money for the memorial. They purchased potted plants for resale to members of their church and used money from their other projects. Others donated cash. They raised $1,500.
The National D-Day Memorial Foundation was moved by the Squires’ generosity and patriotism and invited them to participate in the 10th Anniversary ceremony for the memorial. Garcian and Mr. Tom Stanfa, Chapel Hill High School 10th grade teacher, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with D-Day survivors, a congressman, civic leaders and a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient “Woody” Williams, as special guests and speakers.

Garcian told his story to a crowd of over a thousand participants and spectators.  It was a story of local kids making a difference and their efforts to help keep the memorial funded.  Their mission was to help preserve the World War II veterans’ legacy by “keeping their legacy living.”  His remarks moved the audience. His speech served as the inspiring lead-in to a request for audience participation with a donation.  Watch, listen, and be proud.”  

There is much more to say about this trip and you may read more online.
This writer thanks Jack McCallus for sharing the news about the opening of the National D-Day Memorial.  He brought back memories that were quickly fading with age.  A story about our Post’s and its members and the community service that have provided during our first one hundred years.  “The best is yet to come…”
Coming soon, a walk down memory lane to a journey to Arlington and the World War II Memorial.  It was a trip to say “farewell” to Legionnaire Carl Fritz, as post members joined Tarinee on a 57-passenger Greyhound bus for a day trip to be remembered.
Postscript:  Garcian D’Cruz is a graduate of Elon University and is now the Director of Tennis at the Cleveland Country Club.  He also sings. Several of his songs appear on YouTube.  Check him out.  And, it all started here in Chapel Hill High School.  Mentoring makes a difference.


Garcian D’Cruz story; L Heavlin, shared courtesy of

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