National D-Day Memorial connects special visitor with lost loved one

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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) A field trip to The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford held special meaning for one Franklin County High School student Thursday.

Aaron Cole visited the memorial with his special needs class Thursday morning. Cole's grandfather, Richard E. Cole, took part in the famous Doolittle Raid of Tokyo during World War II. His name is recognized on a brick at the memorial.

Cole, who has Down Syndrome, paused at the brick to honor his grandfather, who died earlier this year at the age of 103.

"I think it's great," Cole said as he stared down at a gray paver near the memorial's entrance. Cole paused and stood silently for several minutes as he reviewed the monument to his grandfather, wiping away tears only after a friend ran up to give him a hug.

"It's a great honor," the friend whispered during the embrace.

"Hearing him talk about his grandfather and just how proud he was of him, it really gives me hope that the next generation will carry on the legacy of the greatest generation and share these stories," remarked Maggie Hartley, an associate director of programming and events for the National D-Day Memorial who led Cole on a tour of the site Thursday.

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