All over the nation people are pausing to remember one of the most significant moments in our world's history. Friday marked 70 years since the D-Day invasion at Normandy. A brand new statue was unveiled Friday at the National D-Day Memorial site in Bedford, Virginia. That's where thousands gathered today to pay their respects.
It's a commemoration of history and pride as thousands gathered to say ‘we won't forget.' That show of patriotism means so much to World War II Veteran Rodney Riecks.
"It's phenomenal," he said.
The Merchant Marine Vet was only 16-years-old when D-Day claimed the lives of so many he held dear.
"When they joined the National Guard back before the war started, it was something for them to do, have a little extra money. They didn't have any foresight of what was going to happen. Then the war broke out," he said.
The allied invasion of Normandy hit Bedford harder than any other community in the nation. At the time, only 3,200 people lived there, but 19 of its soldiers died at Normandy. They're remembered as "The Bedford Boys".
"It was a sad day. The telegrams kept coming in. You just can't imagine the hurt they had," Rieks said fighting tears.
Friday, people from all over gathered at the National D-Day Memorial site in Bedford where veterans and their families joined in reflection.
"I think we're much more aware of what the veterans, the military do for us to keep us free so it means a ton," Bess Tennant said.
A C-47 airplane flew over the crowd to signify the 900 airplanes that transported 13,000 paratroopers to Normandy - as excerpts were read from General Eisenhower's D-day order.
"Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained," a participant read.
The emotional tribute came to a close as organizers then unveiled a brand new statute in honor of the Bedford Boys - 70 years to the day they made the ultimate sacrifice.
"We all were friends and kin, it's just hard to explain…a real sacrifice," Rieks added.
The recognition will last through the weekend. Saturday, a bell will toll and there will be a special parade in honor of the Bedford Boys, followed by a worship service on Sunday.
Friday morning, a group of people gathered at the War Memorial in Richmond to take a bus trip to Bedford. The bus was at capacity.
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