Veterans Reflect At National D-Day Memorial
Bedford, VA - After Fridays events concluded at the National D-Day Memorial, many decided to stay and pay homage to those that lost their lives 70 years ago. Some veterans that remained were among the brave that stormed those beaches and to them the beautiful spot is so much more than just a memorial. After all the pomp and circumstance faded, a few folks were left at the memorial, looking up at Overlord and down, remembering the more than 6,500 Americans killed in its execution. "I just wanted to say I've been here" said Denver Barker. Among them was 91-year-old Barker and his family. Barker landed in the second wave of the D-Day invasion. His daughter drove him 2.5 hours from West Virginia to honor his fellow heroes. "He came here for the 60th anniversary and it's just a very special thing that he did for our country and he may never have another chance to come and I just wanted to make sure he came" said Barbara Surbaugh, Barker's daughter. Barker was one of many heroes at the memorial Friday. Thirty-eight year Air Force veteran, Lionel Leblanc watched coverage of the D-Day landing before he left to fight in the Pacific. "It's tough because after all they were so young, they were like I was, 18 years old out of the service and trained not enough for this" said Leblanc. "This close it would be unforgivable for me not to come" said Don Welsh. Don Welsh and Don Welsh Junior drove from Clifton Forge. He and his son are among a family of fighters. Dad fought in Korea, Son fought in Afghanistan, and the grandfather no longer with them, served his country in World War Two. "My father, my uncles were involved heavily and wounded during World War Two and it was after the invasion, but I've been here before and I wanted to come back since I was this close on D-Day and it's a pleasure to be here" said Welsh. There are an estimated 1.5 million American World War Two veterans still living today. That number though, continues to decline every day.