D-Day commemoration set

Published 12:45 pm Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Piedmont Area Veterans Council (PAVC), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 7059 and American Legion Post 32 are set to hold an event to honor veterans and commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

D-Day marked the June 6, 1944, conflict between Nazi Germany and Allied forces on the shores of Normandy, France.

The event will be held on Saturday, June 8, from noon- 3 p.m. at the Firemen’s Sports Arena at 1328 Zion Hill Road in Farmville.

The ceremony will include food and beverages provided by Merk’s Place and Bojangles in Farmville, and live music from the Heart of Virginia Community Band and the St. John Lutheran Church choir, and motorcyclists from the area chapters of the Buffalo Soldier, VFW and American Legion.

Memorabilia from past conflicts will be on-site, as well as a mobile unit from the Vet Center based in Richmond.

The keynote speaker for the ceremony will be Ken Bowra, who is a retired major general. Bowra served for more than 30 years in the U.S. Army, serving in the Vietnam and Cambodian Civil War conflicts.

Organizers Ed Dunn and Fred Hill encourage veterans and their families to attend. They emphasized that the event is for all veterans, but said they especially hope to honor veterans, spouses and families of WWII.

Hill and Dunn are seeking volunteers to assist during the event, to provide any memorabilia, or to provide transportation for veterans who may need it. Those interested can contact Hill at (434) 574-5134, and Dunn at (434) 392-4142 and pavc23901@aol.com.

Barbara Rose Johns Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library will also be screening the films “The Longest Day” and “Saving Private Ryan” on June 8. Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park will be holding a presentation on June 8 at 3:30 p.m. by historian Chris Calkins about a Farmville resident, Ulric Rock Rothgeb, who was involved with the Normandy Invasion and won two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

Dunn estimated that there were more than 16 million men and women who were involved in WWII. Now, it’s estimated that no more than 500,000 veterans from WWII are living, and are dying at a rapid rate, as the veterans are estimated to be in their 90s.

“We need to do something in Farmville to honor our WWII veterans before they … pass on,” Dunn said.

“That generation, they grew up in the Depression,” Dunn said. “There was a time of uncertainty about the future. There were things happening in Europe and when America entered the war. There were over 16 million men and women who served during WWII, which is a large number … This is 75 years later. Those folks are all aging and passing away. We want to honor them.”

They said the Town of Farmville and surrounding counties have been supportive of the event.

Hill and Dunn said the Vietnam and Korean War veterans are also elderly and returned to the United States during turbulent times in which they were not as welcomed as soldiers in the past. Hill said the Korean War is often known as the forgotten conflict.

Dunn said the service member organizations in Farmville were inspired to put on the event after hearing about the events being held in Bedford to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Bedford lost the most residents through D-Day than any single locality in the United States. The town is the site of the National D-Day Memorial.