If you are driving on Route 29 through south-central Virginia, you may come across a sign pointing you toward the National D-Day Memorial and wonder why it points you toward the small town of Bedford, Virginia a few miles west of Lynchburg. Alex Kershaw's history tells why--over 30 of Bedford's finest young men volunteered and served, most in the same unit, and many never came home from France's shoreline after that fateful June 6th battle.
But the greater, and more interesting, part of Kershaw's story is about the men before the war, why they joined (perhaps not with the patriotic fervor you might expect), and the families they left behind. Some were married, some engaged, some single, some barely old enough to enlist, some approaching 30 with family responsibilities at home. Their stories are poignant, and the holes they left in the community are powerful indicators of a sense of shared purpose and responsibility that are missing in today's big cities and sprawling suburban developments.
Stephen Ambrose has mined this territory many times, and Kershaw captures the same feeling on a smaller scale. If you have roots in or have driven through Bedford and wondered why the memorial is there, after reading The Bedford Boys you can answer: because this is right where it belongs.
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