It's the kind of place with a picturesque courthouse
on Main Street. A town where time moves more slowly than in other places.
not-yet-completed National D-Day Memorial, commemorating the
allied invasion of Normandy during World War II
The town of Bedford also holds a somber distinction. This community gave up
more of its sons per capita on D-Day than any other community in the country.
Twenty-one headstones in the local cemetery are engraved with the same date:
June 6, 1944. Bedford was a town of 3,200 at the time.
The boys from Bedford were all part of Company A. Many were patriotic young
men who left wives and girlfriends behind young men who were asked to grow
up very quickly.
One of those young men was Roy Stevens, who now passes time watching the
workmen build the new National D-Day Memorial near Bedford.
"I sure would like to see it finished. Because of Ray, I'd like to see
it finished so I could come up and say they did something," Stevens, a
retired factory worker, told Fox News.
Ray was Roy's twin brother. Both were headed to the beach that morning. But,
Roy's landing craft sank and he was rescued. Ray's boat made it to shore only to
face the German onslaught.
"Four days later I came back in on the beaches there. I wandered over to
the cemetery. I heard rumors that some of them got killed there. The first cross
I came to was Ray and it had his dog tags on it," Stevens said.
At about that same time back in Bedford, a 21-year-old telegraph operator was
arriving for work.
"I put the machine on -- the teletype machine -- and I said to Roanoke
'Good Morning, go-ahead, this is Bedford' and the operator teletyped back to me
'I have casualties'," Elizabeth Teass, 77 and now retired, said.
Over the next few days, townspeople learned that 19 Bedford men had died in
the invasion, two more in the fighting that followed. One family was hit harder
than the rest.
"We were the only family in Bedford that lost two sons on D-day,"
Lucille Hoback Bogess, a former county supervisor, said.
Bogess was 15 when her family learned that her brother Bedford had been
killed. A few days later, a second telegram her brother Raymond was missing.
His body was never found, but his Bible was. It was returned to the family with
a letter from the young soldier who found it.
"While walking along the beach D-Day plus one, I came upon the Bible. As
most any person would do, I picked it up from the sands to keep it from being
destroyed," Bogess read from the letter she has kept for 56 years.
That Bible and a few mementos are all that remain now to represent the lives
of her two brothers. Bogess wonders how life might have been different if the
young Bedford men killed on D-Day had returned.
"When you take 19 young men out of a community like this it leaves a
vacuum that I just don't think we've filled," she said.
On Memorial Day this year, the town unveiled a statue that will be part of
the memorial to honor the dead. It's called "Death on Shore" and it's
supposed to represent each of the young men from Bedford who died that day on
Normandy Beach. This particular statue, though, has brought a tear to the eye of
many people from Bedford. Falling out of the knapsack of one of the boys
represented on the beach is a holy Bible.
Fox News' Brian Wilson contributed to this report. END