On June 6-7, D-Day veterans are expected by the multi-thousands to visit the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. This event commemorates the 70 anniversary of the epic WWII battle many historians consider the most important of the war. Bedford was chosen because it lost more soldiers per capita than anywhere in the United States during the Allied invasion of Normandy.
To say that the memorial is moving, inspiring and magnificent would be understatements. Of all the historical places I have had the privilege to visit, this is the best. I was moved to tears. Every American should visit this outstanding tribute to the Allied Forces and Operation Overlord.
A visit to the National D-Day Memorial will transport you to the Normandy shores where tragedy ensued June 6, 1944. Created to reflect a narrative chronology, the D-Day Memorial is meticulously designed and spares no attention to detail. The names of the fallen are listed on the memorial walls and statues of heroic figures fill the fountain in the memorial’s center. The statues in action, replicating the men who braved the beach that day so many years ago, are life-like. Sounds of rushing water mimic that of bullets flying by as you look out at the scene. In the background, flowers of bright purple and red are in bloom; these colors represent the colors on the badges of the soldiers who so courageously fought for our country. This symbolic memorial exemplifies the legacy of D-Day, the American spirit and the triumph of freedom.
The 70th anniversary of D-Day will be observed at the memorial June 6-7, 2014. A special ceremony featuring an honor guard, dignitaries and more will both honor and recognize D-Day veterans. For more information on the National D-Day Memorial or the upcoming commemoration ceremony and events, visit dday.org.
The visit to the Memorial should also include a visit to lovely and nearby
Roanoke, Va., nicknamed the Magic City. Situated among the Blue Ridge Mountains, the scenery is picture perfect. Unwind amid history and charm – catch a minor league baseball game, stroll through the city center, cruise the lake by boat or tour a vineyard. There are more than enough options to keep you occupied in Roanoke.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
The Roanoke Star and Overlook
Located within the city of Roanoke, you will find the Roanoke Star and Overlook and the Discovery Center. Here you can look out over the city from the world’s largest man-made star. Once you’ve seen the city from high above, walk over to the Discovery Center where you can reconnect with Mother Nature – a great place for both young and old. For more information on The Roanoke Star and Overlook or the Discovery Center, visit playroanoke.com.
Smith Mountain Lake
Smith Mountain Lake is postcard-picturesque and offers two world-class national parks, five golf courses, sandy beaches and swimming, a public fishing pier, boat rentals, wineries and more. As we stepped out onto the Bridgewater Marina, the lake glistened in the distance. Boats filled the dock and people strolled along the pier. Our scenic cruise on the lake’s sparkling waters came with a stop for ice cream from the lake’s famous ice cream boat. That’s right – the ice cream man has set sail on the open waters! Started as a family affair nearly 15 years ago, the Burke brothers are still in business. They can be found patrolling the waters of Smith Mountain Lake for hungry customers, ready to satisfy their sweet tooth. For more information on Smith Mountain Lake, go to visitsmithmountainlake.com. To learn more about boat rentals, visit bwmarina.com.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Looking to get out and see the sights? Look no further than the Blue Ridge Parkway. This winding drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains encompasses 469 miles of spectacular scenery. For more information on one of America’s favorite drives, visit blueridgeparkway.org.
This down-home restaurant has been serving breakfast, lunch and dinner for more than six decades. An institution, The Roanoker was named one of the top-five best breakfast spots in Virginia. Stop on by to see what all the buzz is about! For more information, visit theroanokerrestaurant.com.
At Local Roots the food looks as good as it tastes. Offering a carefully crafted menu featuring local, organically grown ingredients, Local Roots serves delicious, one-of-a-kind fare. For more information, visit localroots.com.
Salem Red Sox
Grab a seat and a hot dog at one of the prettiest stadiums you’ve ever seen as you gear up for an evening of minor league baseball. The Salem Red Sox have been an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox since 2009, but Roanoke baseball roots can be traced as far back as 1887. With the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background and baseball at the forefront – you can’t go wrong by sitting under blue skies to watch a game of ball at Salem Memorial Stadium. For more information, visit salemsox.com.
Peaks of Otter Winery & Orchard
As self-proclaimed stewards of the land, the fruit, the community and the consumer, Peaks of Otter Winery puts passion into their production of award-winning wines. With flavors like apple truffle, pumpkin pie and strawberry shortcake, your taste buds will come alive. For more information, visit peaksofotterwinery.com.
MUSEUMS AND HISTORY
Virginia Museum of Transportation
Trains, planes and automobiles, oh my! At the Virginia Museum of Transportation expect to see a vast collection of more than 2,000 locomotive, automotive, aviation and transit artifacts. Maintaining the largest collection of diesel locomotives in the South, a trip to the Virginia Museum of Transportation would not be complete without enjoying the numerous outstanding rail-related attractions. For more information, visit VMT.org.
Blue Ridge Institute & Museum
Ferrum College has documented Blue Ridge folklore for the past 30 years. Experience what life might have been like more than 200 years ago at the Blue Ridge Farm Museum or explore the gallery exhibitions. For more information, visit blueridgeinstitute.org.
Center in the Square
Recently renovated, Center in the Square is an independent, private non-profit home to four downtown properties – Center in the Square, Center on Church, the former Shenandoah Hotel and the former Raymond Loewy Norfolk and Western Passenger Station. Situated within Center in the Square you will find the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, the History Museum of Western Virginia, Mill Mountain Theatre and the Science Museum of West Virginia. For more information, visit centerinthesquare.org.
Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest
Take a step back in time and into the life and mind of Thomas Jefferson. Poplar Forest is a National Historic Landmark and one of only two homes designed by Jefferson himself, used as his personal retreat. For more information, visit poplarforest.org.
The Taubman Museum of Art
The Taubman Museum of Art encompasses art through the times, from folk and visionary art to modern and contemporary art. With more than 2,000 pieces in their collection, you will find a variety of art to admire – ancient Egyptian artifacts, sculptures, paintings and more. For more information, visit taubmanmuseum.org.
Booker T. Washington National Monument
Visit the birthplace of Booker T. Washington. Born a slave, Washington would later become one of America’s most prominent African American educators and orators. For more information, visit nps.gov/bowa
The Historic Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center
History and charm seep from every nook and cranny of The Hotel Roanoke. Offering an air of style and sophistication, The Hotel Roanoke boasts 331 guest rooms, 19 suites and more than 60,000 square-feet of meeting space. Guests will feel like royalty among the marble floors and vaulted ceilings. Enjoy the famous peanut soup and spoonbread at the hotel restaurant or walk across the street to Market Square and Downtown Roanoke for shopping, dining and entertainment. For more information, visit hotelroanoke.com.