Remember their Sacrifice

Hello All,
Alex Kersaw with Elizabeth and Felicia, NDDMF Staff

The staff at the National D-Day Memorial Foundation (NDDMF) would like to thank all those who came to the Memorial to support America’s veterans, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It was impressive to see so many individuals and families honoring our fallen veterans. We are happy to report that about 1,100 people were in attendance for the Memorial Day Ceremony. Our keynote speaker, Mr. Alex Kersaw, author of The Bedford Boys, truly captured the heart and soul of Memorial Day with his poignant reminder of why it is vital to continue honoring the legacy of those who sacrificed before us and those who will continue to protect our freedoms.

Alex and April laying flowers down at Leslie Abbott’s grave.

After the ceremony, Alex and our NDDMF President, April Cheek Messier, spent the afternoon at the Oakwood and Greenwood Cemeteries, paying tribute to our fallen Bedford Boys. They, along with family members of the Bedford Boys, placed flowers at each grave site. This is the first year the Bedford International Alliance has coordinated such a moving tribute to our fallen heroes, having been inspired to do so after visiting Normandy for the 70thAnniversary last year.
The next event for the National D-Day Memorial is, of course, the 71st Anniversary of D-Day on Saturday 6 June 2015 and will be an event you most certainly will not want to miss!
Message from the President, April Cheek Messier,
“The National D-Day Memorial Foundation will commemorate the 71st anniversary of D-Day with a full day of activities including special music, wreath-layings, a veteran’s reunion tent, living history, and a twilight remembrance in the evening. The ceremony begins at 11 AM on Saturday, June 6th. Representatives from France, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom will be in attendance to lay wreaths, as well as representatives from various D-Day service units.
Memorial Day 2015

The keynote speaker for the program is Dame Mary Sigillo Barraco. Barraco was an American teenager living in Belgium when World War II broke out in Europe. Barraco was fluent in French, English, Flemish, Italian, and German which would serve her well in the years to come. Shortly after the war began, she joined a Resistance Group known as the “Freedom Fighters” and was responsible for aiding downed allied pilots, hiding Jewish citizens, and sneaking supplies to those held in Nazi prisons and detention camps. Barraco and her fiancé were eventually betrayed for the equivalent of $12 by a Belgian partisan. They were subsequently captured and subjected to savage torture by the Gestapo. Her fiancé was later executed.  Barraco’s message will center on tolerance, responsibly, and never taking freedom for granted.

The U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard Silent Drill Team will also perform during the June 6th ceremony. Based out of Alexandria, Virginia, the Silent Drill Team travels extensively throughout the nation performing for thousands of citizens and dignitaries at parades, festivals, and military functions. The members of the Silent Drill Team also carry out ceremonial duties for the Military District of Washington at venues such as the White House, Pentagon, and Arlington National Cemetery. The Coast Guard Silent Drill Team exemplifies the Ceremonial Honor Guard’s time-honored values of pride, poise, and perfection.
A moving addition will be music provided by the 29thDivision band which will feature the legendary Colonel Arnald D. Gabriel as guest conductor. Col. Gabriel was a combat machine gunner with the 29thInfantry Division in Europe during World War II. He received two Bronze Star Medals, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the French Croix de Guerre.
The National D-Day Memorial

Col. Gabriel served as Commander/Conductor of the internationally renowned U.S. Air Force Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Singing Sergeants from 1964 to 1985. His 21 year tenure was the longest in that organization’s history. Col. Gabriel retired from the United States Air Force in 1985 following a distinguished 36 year military career, at which time he was awarded his third Legion of Merit for his service to the United States Air Force and to music education throughout the country. In 1990, he was named the first Conductor Emeritus of the USAF Band at a special concert held at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. In 2008, the USAF Band dedicated the Arnald D. Gabriel Hall in his honor, and Bands of America inducted Col. Gabriel into its Hall of Fame. Col. Gabriel has performed in all 50 of the United States and in 50 countries around the world.

After the Memorial’s ceremony, which will conclude around noon, a patriotic concert will follow. The Enduring Freedom Honor Team from Fredericksburg, Virginia will perform from 12:30 to 1:15 PM. The group consists of high school students dressed in WWII era uniforms playing period music. From 1:30 to 2:30 PM, the 29th Division band will conduct a full performance with Col. Gabriel in the Memorial’s main plaza. Food will be available on site throughout the day, providing guests an opportunity to meet World War II veterans under the veteran reunion tent.
Admission is free throughout the day and the Memorial will remain open until 9:00 PM.  For the evening, the Memorial is hosting a Twilight Remembrance with a portion of the 29th Division Band playing 7:30 PM to closing. The band will end the evening with the sounding of Taps.
Please join the National D-Day Memorial for the 71stanniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2015. D-Day and World War II veterans and their families are asked to call ahead for VIP parking passes and reserved seating. For more information or updates, visit www.www.dday.orgor call (540) 586-3329. This event is generously sponsored by AREVA, Winoa USA/W Abrasives, Freedom Aviation, and Financial Designs.”
I hope to see you all there!
Take Care,

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