D-Day Memorial prepares for annual Memorial Day ceremony

BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ) Every year since 1971, the last Monday in May has been dedicated to the men and women who died while serving in the military.

The D-Day Memorial in Bedford is holding its annual Memorial Day ceremony Monday morning.

There is a necrology wall at the memorial that lists all the people, both American and Allies, who died on June 6, 1944. Currently, there are 4,413 names on the wall.

"That's really a lot to take in when you're thinking one day loss," Angela Lynch, the associate director of marketing for the memorial, said.

During Monday's ceremony that number increases by one.

"The gentleman that we're adding is John Onken," Lynch said.

New research discovered that Onken was part of a group who landed on Normandy 's beach ahead of the main invasion. Now, his name will be memorialized in stone along side his band of brothers.

"Our necrology project is something we've been working on for the better part of two decades, but it's not something that we can consider to be complete at this point, and it may never be complete," Lynch said.

There will also be special recognition paid to the Bedford Boys during Monday's ceremony. Alex Kershaw, the best selling author of the book, "The Bedford Boys," will be the guest speaker.

Of the 4,000+ men who died on D-Day, more than 2,000 of them were Americans and 20 of them came from Bedford.

"The loss that we felt here in this community, it's hard to wrap your mind around," Lynch said.

Even though the loss of the Bedford Boys will be on the forefront of everyone's minds, Monday's memorial ceremony honors all soldiers' sacrifices in the history of the United States.

"It doesn't matter if it's WWI, Vietnam, the Civil War, or WWII, that [ceremony] honors everyone who died for the cause of freedom," Lynch said.

The Remembering Their Sacrifice: Memorial Day Ceremony is at 11 a.m. Admission into the memorial will be free until noon.