Living Connection: Bedford Boy's daughter recalls father's D-Day legacy

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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) Twin brothers, torn apart by D-Day.

The story of Roy and Ray Stevens has been told widely in recent years. That wasn't the case when Roy's daughter, Kathy, was a child.

"All we knew growing up was that he lost Ray," explained Kathy, a retired school teacher who lives in Bedford.

Ray and Roy Stevens were Bedford Boys, members of the 29th infantry who stormed France on June 6, 1944.

Ray died on the beach at Normandy. Roy discovered his brother's dog tags on a grave days later.

He participated in one of the most important military campaigns of all time and lived to talk about it, but talk he did not - at least not at first.

"When the D-Day Memorial came about, that's when he came out of his shell because he met more vets," Stevens explained. "That really brought him out."

Stevens shared his story with WDBJ7's Keith Humphry in 1994. He talked about the last time he saw his brother, just before they separated for the D-Day mission.

"He stuck his hand out to shake my hand and I said I'll meet you at Vierville-sur-Mer (France). I'll take your hand there," Roy Stevens said in 1994. "He just dropped his head. I thought to myself 'why didn't I take his hand?', but I didn't"

"(Not shaking his brother's hand) haunted him all of his life, so when he finally passed away I said they're in heaven, shaking hands and hugging," Kathy Stevens said with a smile.

Stevens said her father was far more open in later years, working to educate younger generations about his experience.

"He really enjoyed going around to schools and talking to, particularly, the elementary kids," Stevens said.

Roy Stevens thought it was vital for people to understand the significance of D-Day.

Today, Kathy carries on that part of her father's legacy.

"I think it's very important that children know about this understand it," said Stevens. "They fought for our freedom and that's what we have today, because of that."