Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Visit to the D Day Memorial

During my week between jobs, Dad and I spent some time watching the weather and planning an overnight ride for the weekend. Unfortunitly our plans were changed a bit after Dad was scheduled to attend a meeting for work on that Saturday. With that in mind we changed our plans to get a good day ride in.

Saturday night before the ride Dad came up with a good idea for a ride which involved heading up to Bedford, Virigina to see the D-Day Memorial. Dad said that he and Mom and been to the memorial before, but if I had any interest he would love to go again. Well, being the history nerd I am... I was up for it!

Before we left it looked like there was a good chance that we would get wet due to a front that was moving through from the west. Our best bet looked to be to the north and potentially miss it and come back down behind it. So with that in mind we headed up Hwy 52 to Hwy 8 like I did earlier in the week. I enjoy that road so much I am pretty sure I could ride it everyday and not get tired of it...

Rolling up Hwy 8 just shy of Danbury, NC. We got in line with a group of bikes including this trike... surprisingly he was doing pretty well in the corners.

In order to get over to Bedford from Hwy 8 we needed to take SR-40 across to SR-122 into Bedford. Now the last time I was on SR-40 was a couple years ago in the spring. The road was covered in so much gravel and dirt that it was no fun at all to ride. I even have video of that run and I happened to recording at such an angle that you can see the back tire slide as I run across some rocks in the road. So needless to say I was a bit nervous to head back that way again. Fortunitly for us the state had been hard at work cleaning that road up and had even repaved sections of it! The road was in amazing shape and was a joy to ride again!

At this point I can't remember if we had made it to 122 yet or if we were still on 40, but it was getting close to lunch time and we just happened to come across a Dairy Queen... To make Mike Brown happy, we decided to pull off there and grab a quick lunch before heading on into Bedford. I suppose his Goldwing has been rubbing off on the FJR and the FZ6.

Once we got into the Bedford, we made our way into the welcome center to purchase tickets for the memorial. On our way out the door we noticed that some dark clouds had started to move in and on our way up to the memorial the rain began to fall. We managed to get off the bikes and into the gift shop before the bottom fell out. Once that cell had passed through, Dad and I headed out and began walking around the memorial.

They had set this up so that the beginning of the memorial explain edthe events that led up to invansion by displaying statues and plaques that gave biographies on some of the key leaders in the D-Day invasion. The center peiece of the memorial were the statues and mock up of the Normandy beach. Around this area were all the names of the American soilders that lost their lives during the invansion. Finally the memorial came to a close as you passed down a row of trees that led to various other statues of political figures and leaders of the era following D-Day.

Kinda expected Patton to have a statue, not a plaque...

An amazing speech, one that would be difficult to give knowing that it was a going to be a slaughter..

Memorial was set up to give you the perspective of the solider as you were exiting the landing crafts and storming the beaches.

The water tank had small air cannons under water that were set on timers to go off to mimic bullets hitting the water.

Soldiers scaling the cliffs of Normandy.

About the time Dad and I started to make our way into the main part of the memorial, the next band of showers made their way in. We quickly headed for shelter inside the girft shop again and waited till it moved through. At this point the temperatures had dropped a good bit, so Dad and I sat out on the porch under the awning and discussed the battle and such.

The storm didn't hang around long, the sun came back out as did the blue skies. We headed back out to the center of the memorial to read some more plaques and take everything in.

Soldier making it over the top of the cliffs at Normady. Amazing back drop with the mountain range...

The curved wall in the back ground contains plates which have the names of all the American soldiers who died during the invansion.

Statue set up towards the end of the memorial. The soldier that is on his feet is wearing a wedding band. It was the only part of the statue with any color to it. Very powerful peice...

Final monument of the memorial...

Once we had made our way though the memorial, I went back to the gift shop to pick up a shot glass to add to my collection. We looked over the map and set off looking for some back roads to make it back down to Martinsville, Virginia. An hour later we ended up just a few miles south of where we started and decided to head back the way we came... Barn I have been meaning to get a picture of for a while now. I will try and get a better shot next time with the mountains in the back ground.

We made it home around 7 or so that evening after riding a little over 300 miles. We stayed dry up until the last 15 miles of the ride... but I have no complaints. It was a great ride, one which I will never forget. The memorial was sobering and breath taking. Later that week the History Channel was running a documentary on the invansion... it truely is amaizing what those young men did.

1 comment:

Liz said...

I have been there; It's a truly moving monument to our nations history.