- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 2, 2001

BEDFORD, Va. (AP) Officials have uncovered a 47-year-old time capsule buried beneath the county courthouse that shows a community still recovering from devastating losses during World War II and early efforts for a D-Day memorial.
Bedford, Va. lost more men per capita than of any other locality during the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Nineteen died in the opening moments of battle. Within a week, 23 of Bedford's 35 soldiers were dead.
Ten years later, the small farming community of 3,200 placed a granite marker near the courthouse steps. The 5-foot-tall stone, taken from the coastal town of Vierville-Sur-Mer where the Bedford soldiers landed, is etched with the men's names.
Over the years, however, most people forgot the gallon glass jar that D-Day veterans buried underneath, stuffed with artifacts from the war.
"I remember the dedication of the memorial, but I had forgotten about the time capsule until recently," said Lucille Boggess, chairwoman of the Bedford County Board of Supervisors, who lost two brothers on D-Day.
The time capsule resurfaced as the county planned to remodel the 70-year-old courthouse. The capsule, officials realized, was likely in the way and could be damaged, said county spokesman Bill Hoy.
"They really weren't sure where it was; they didn't want to tear it up," Mr. Hoy said.
Using an old photograph to find where it was placed, construction crews located the jar last week embedded in the concrete below the memorial stone. Inside, its 19 artifacts remained intact and in good shape.
There is an autographed drawing by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and a German insignia worn by Field Marshal Gerd Von Runstedt, commander of German forces in France on D-Day.
There's a black-and-white U.S. Army photo showing the Normandy beach just after the invasion, a county tourism brochure, newspaper and magazine articles detailing the service of the Bedford soldiers. There are packets of soil from bases where the Bedford soldiers trained in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia and England.
Letters from county historian Kenneth Crouch, who spearheaded the drive for the memorial stone, also are included in the time capsule. One was written by a relative of Von Runstedt's, who sent Mr. Crouch the field marshal's insignia.
The contents likely will be displayed at the Bedford City-County Museum for now. But officials plan to include them at the recently dedicated National D-Day Memorial as soon as an education center is built.


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