- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2009

ROANOKE | The National D-Day Memorial, teetering on a precarious financial footing, will host a Veterans Day ceremony as usual. But nearly half the staff will be gone in less than a month and visitors this winter may have to call for an appointment.

Virginia’s congressional delegation has been pressing to have the National Park Service take control of the Bedford memorial, but it still faces an uncertain future.

The president of the foundation that runs the memorial, William McIntosh, said earlier this year that it was in danger of closing because of a decline in donations. On Monday, he said he thought it could remain open for the duration of the Park Service’s scrutiny, although he was not sure how.

The memorial could be taken over by the Park Service in either of two ways: a presidential declaration, which would be fairly speedy, or through a full Park Service review, which officials said usually takes two years.

Mr. McIntosh said he’s been told informally it is not likely to qualify for inclusion by presidential declaration. That option has been under study for the past few months at the direction of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

But Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, said he thinks the initial review, which included a Park Service team’s visit in August, can help the case for the memorial.

“It got on their radar screen,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Warner and two other Virginia Democrats, Sen. Jim Webb and Rep. Tom Perriello, recently won approval for a full Park Service study on turning the privately run memorial into a national park. Such studies normally take about two years, according to Terry Moore, chief of park planning for the Northeast region.

Mr. McIntosh is cautiously hopeful about the longer study.

“There is more of a chance,” he said. “I’m glad that the memorial will get a thorough look.”

To become a national park, the memorial will have to be of national significance.

The 8-year-old memorial is a tribute to the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, during World War II.

The outdoor museum was built in Bedford because the community suffered among the nation’s highest per-capita losses on D-Day, when about 10,000 troops were killed or wounded in the largest air, land and sea operation in military history.

The suitability of placing the memorial in the park system also will be studied, as well as the feasibility of managing it, Mr. Moore said. If the memorial passes all those tests, the Park Service will determine whether it is the best agency to run it.

“It’s not just that the memorial is a worthy subject,” Mr. McIntosh said. Another question is “can the Park Service do it as well as the memorial does it?”

Only a handful of the sites studied meet the requirements to become a national park, Mr. Moore said.

“Between 10 and 15 percent may end up with a designation,” he said.

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