- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2008

BEDFORD, Va. (AP) — Medals, uniforms and other mementos are among the usual public offerings to the National D-Day Memorial.

“Those are nice for display purposes and they have a story to tell but beyond just being able to look at them, there is not really much else we can do with them,” said Shannon Brooks, the foundation’s associate for research and publications.

Then a collection of scrapbooks arrived several months ago filled with about 5,000 newspaper clippings chronicling World War II.

Miss Brooks called the gift one of the most significant the foundation has received.

“Just in terms of the many different applications for so many different people,” she said.

The memorial, which opened in June 2001, honors U.S. and Allied forces who took part in the World War II invasion of Nazi-occupied France on June 6, 1944.

The collection of clips came from Mabel Scott Walker, 90, of Franklin County. She began keeping the records shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and continued throughout the war. Mrs. Walker at that time lived in Newport News, where her husband worked in a shipyard.

The collection includes articles from the Martinsville Bulletin, the Roanoke Times and the Daily Press in Newport News.

Mrs. Walker’s sisters forwarded newspapers from Martinsville and Roanoke during the war. She ended up with 18 scrapbooks that provide a comprehensive day-by-day account of the war.

A $1,000 grant from Wal-Mart, in Bedford, will allow the foundation to purchase optical character recognition software to convert the delicate clippings into an electronic database.

“It is one thing to have these things sitting on a shelf,” Miss Brooks said. “It is another to be able to use them.”

Teachers, researchers and family members of soldiers will be able to search the database.

A stroke has left Mrs. Walker unable to remember details about her scrapbooks, said her daughter, Betty Holt, 55.

Mrs. Holt said she used them for research papers as a student in Franklin County public schools.

“I thought we might as well give them to somebody that will enjoy them,” she said.

Mrs. Holt said she thinks her mother’s scrapbook habit started as way for her to keep up with what was happening overseas and keep in touch with a brother who fought in the war.

Said Miss Brooks: “It is not just good for Bedford and the D-Day memorial; it is going to be good for a lot of organizations in a lot of different communities.”

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