Day 9 – Thursday May 22, 2022. Southern Route
Today we travel from Wytheville Virginia to Lynchburg Virginia. It will be an easier day than most with only 130 miles to be traveled for the pack. Breakfast was at Withers Park with again, the people of Wytheville coming out to take care of us. After a bit, the kids came around and started their show for us. The children put on a fantastic show. They obviously practiced long and hard for this. They started with a patriotic entrance using flags for each branch of the service with the appropriate song of that branch. Then they went into a very well done skit from Stripes where the kids were spot on with the acting and speaking parts. It was very well done and brought the house down. They did some readings and the meaning behind them. They also carried the American Flag and the POW flag. It was all very touching and very well done. “Bravo” to the people of Wytheville to have a community like this. We were impressed and very honored to have your support. Thank You!!
I decided to spend some time with the Ambassadors so we went on our own for an outreach to a VA hospital. That was also moving. Many of the patients were outside in chairs waiting for us and I would expect this was an exciting event for them. We roared in with our motorcycles and started mixing with them making conversations. We all have something in common with the military service or having family in the military service but most people like to talk about themselves so it was easy to simply listen. Some of them had motorcycle stories so we had a good time hanging out with them. This facility seemed to be taking good care of these warriors. They were happy campers and enjoyed the visit. The time spent with the Ambassadors was fruitful and interesting. The Ambassadors do a lot of work on the periphery of the run. The Ambassadors plow ahead of the pack to stop and visit most of the bridges that are greeting us as we go by. They thank the bridge participants and give them a pin or another trinket to show our appreciation for their support. They also go on out reach visits to family of KIA’s and MIA’s.
We then went onto the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. I visited this memorial in 2019 and was super impressed. I had never heard of it before that visit but it is a large and very well put together memorial. I’ll include a few pictures but there’s a lot of stories to learn about here. Bedford was chosen as the location for this memorial because they lost more men per capitia than any other city in the US at D-Day. From the web site:
Bedford, Virginia… Like eleven other Virginia communities, Bedford provided a company of soldiers (Company A) to the 29th Infantry Division when the National Guard’s 116th Infantry Regiment was activated on 3 February 1941. Some thirty Bedford soldiers were still in that company on D-Day; several more from Bedford were in other D-Day companies, including one who, two years earlier, had been reassigned from the 116th Infantry to the First Infantry Division. Thus he had already landed in both Northern Africa and Sicily before coming ashore on D-Day at Omaha Beach with the Big Red One. Company A of the 116th Infantry assaulted Omaha Beach as part of the First Division’s Task Force O.
By day’s end, nineteen of the company’s Bedford soldiers were dead. Two more Bedford soldiers died later in the Normandy campaign, as did yet another two assigned to other 116th Infantry companies. Bedford’s population in 1944 was about 3,200. Proportionally this community suffered the nation’s severest D-Day losses. Recognizing Bedford as emblematic of all communities, large and small, whose citizen-soldiers served on D-Day, Congress warranted the establishment of the National D-Day Memorial here.
The Bedford Boys will be remembered along with all the others. There are plaques for all that died that day on the main circle. And, the invasion was a success and this memorial is a significant place to visit and learn more history about the war.
From Bedford, we went onto Lynchburg and had a nice dinner at the Harley Davidson Dealer of Lynchburg. Another good day.
P.S. – Sorry I don’t know how to format picture locations yet in this web site.