Author: Boyd Childress

head of the Library of Architecture, Design, and Construction at Auburn University

National D-Day Memorial

The National D-Day Memorial is a congressionally approved national war memorial in Bedford, Virginia, honoring the American GIs who participated in the invasion of France at Normandy on June 6, 1944, during World War II (1939–1945). Dedicated on June 6, 2001, by United States president George W. Bush and receiving as many as 100,000 visitors per year, the memorial is remarkable for its stone arch that rises nearly forty-five feet in the air. The structure’s six components correspond, often in directly representational ways, to the planning and execution of Operation Overlord, the largest invasion in history. Conceived by Roanoke native and D-Day veteran J. Robert “Bob” Slaughter, the memorial is located in Bedford partly for symbolic reasons: the Virginia town lost nineteen of its men engaged that day, all members of Company A, 29th Infantry Division, possibly the largest per capita loss of any town in America on that day. (Four more Bedford soldiers died later in the campaign.) Although Slaughter had originally envisioned something modest, the project turned into a $25 million colossus that resulted in the memorial foundation’s bankruptcy in 2002 and two federal fraud indictments against its executive director, Richard B. Burrow. Two trials ended in hung juries, and charges against Burrow were dismissed in October 2004.


Arthur Ashe (1943–1993)

Arthur Ashe was a professional tennis player, broadcaster, author, and activist. Known for his on-court grace and low-key demeanor, he was the first Black men’s tennis champion at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, the first African American to play for and captain the U.S. Davis Cup team, and the first Black man inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Yet it was and remains Ashe’s legacy outside of professional tennis for which he is most noted. He was the first and only African American to have a statue of his likeness erected on Richmond‘s historic Monument Avenue and one of the most prominent athletes of any race to die from AIDS.