The first roadtrip!
Trip Start Mar 04, 2005
253Trip End Dec 31, 2014
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First up, the National Park. Booker T. Washington was born into slavery at this site in 1856. His mother was the cook and his father was a neighboring white farmer. This was a small farm not a grand plantation. They grew tobacco and other crops as well as raising lifestock. Most of the work was shared between the farmer, his family and the slaves. In fact, the majority of slave owners worked these small farms rather than the grand plantations. With freedom given to all slaves at the end of the Civil War Booker and his family moved to West Virigina to live with his step-father.
In his memoirs Booker tells of having to carry his 'mistresses' school books for her and not being able to enter the school she attended. This started a life long desire to learn. Throughout his life he would make what ever sacrifice he had to in order to get and, later give an education. In fact he was the first principal ot the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
As with most National Park this one contains a small visitor center, a movie and a short hiking trail through the restored buildings of Bookers birthplace.
From the National Park we headed back to Bedford for some lunch prior to visiting the National D-Day Memorial. Ken and I had no idea that this Memorial even existed. I actually learned of it through the 'whats nearby' link on the Booker T. Washington National Park website.
The memorial was dedicated by President George W. Bush on June 6, 2001. It exists in tribute to the valor, fidelity and sacrifice of the Allied Forces on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Why Bedford, Virginia you may be asking. Well, Bedford provided a company of soldiers ( Company A ) to the 29th Infantry Division when the National Guard's 116th Infantry was activated on February 3, 1941. Some thirty of these troops were still in that company on D-Day. Company A landed on Omaha Beach in the FIRST wave of the First Infantry Divisions Task Force O.
By day's end, ninteen of the company's Bedford soldiers were dead. Bedford's population in 1944 was about 3,200. Proportionally, this community suffered the nation's severest D-Day losses. We would take a guided tour of this memorial and learn that this small community still remembers the "Bedford Boys" and the sacrifice they made for all of us.
The Memorial is very well done and we would definately recommend paying the extra $3 per person and taking the guided tour. You will learn that the memorial was laid out to represent the sweep of D-Day from it's early planning, through the channel crossing and landing in France. It really is very well done and quite moving.
After a couple of hours at the Memorial - so glad we stopped for lunch first! - we decided to take a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway home. It was a wonderful day, about 100 miles round trip, filled with a variety of sites from this beautiful part of the country. We have a lot more exploring to do, so check back often!