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D-Day Memorial and The Crooked Road

You may be asking yourself what the D-Day Memorial in Bedford County and the Crooked Road have in common.

But what they share is that both are in Virginia’s Ninth District, and both have been mentioned in National Geographic Magazine.

In a June 2002 National Geographic article based on untold stories of D-Day, Bedford’s D-Day Memorial received attention for its historical contributions to World War II Remembrance. The article estimated that the town of Bedford suffered the most fatalities on June 6, 1944 per capita of any community in America.

Photos of the Hoback brothers, who died storming Omaha Beach, are shown. The photos were donated to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation in the fall of 2023.

National Geographic also shared a photo from the 2001 Dedication Ceremony of the National D-Day Memorial.

As a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, I was present at the 2001 Dedication Ceremony where President George W. Bush was invited to attend and give remarks.

The spectacular event gave wind to a burgeoning Virginia landmark that is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Normandy invasion on June 6.

A separate Virginia historical centerpiece was recognized earlier this year, as National Geographic released an article entitled “Why southwest Virginia is the birthplace of country music.”

The author, Mike MacEacheran, details his trip along the Crooked Road and discusses the profound history of country music in the region.

The Crooked Road, celebrating its 20th anniversary, spans 333 miles across the Ninth District, with one end in Rocky Mount in Franklin County and the other end at The Breaks in Dickenson County, Virginia.

I was Majority Leader in the Virginia House of Delegates when I voted for passage of House Bill 909, legislation sponsored by Delegate Bud Phillips designating the Crooked Road as Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.

At the 2004 ceremony when the bill was signed into law, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley was present.

Dr. Stanley and his brother Carter, both of Dickenson County, had successful musical careers, particularly in the bands The Clinch Mountain Boys and The Stanley Brothers.

A song of Dr. Stanley’s, “O Death”, is featured in the popular Coen Brothers Film O Brother, Where Art Thou? His performance won the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.

The producer of the film’s soundtrack, T Bone Burnett, credits his visit to Bristol as inspiration for the award-winning soundtrack.

The Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

2024 also marks the 50th anniversary of the Carter Family Fold.

Located in Hiltons in Scott County, the Fold pays tribute to the famous Carter Family. The trio of A.P., Sara and Maybelle, among the earliest recording artists in country music, is considered the “First Family of Country Music.”

June Carter continued the family’s legacy, accumulating five Grammy awards during her musical career. June married Johnny Cash.

The Carter Family were the first to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Carter Family hit commercial success after the 1927 Bristol Sessions. Along with the likes of Jimmie Rodgers and Ernest Stoneman, the breakout sessions helped put Bristol on the map.

As a result, we have the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. The Museum, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, details the stories and impacts of the 1927 Bristol Sessions that unleashed the “big bang of country music.”

The museum hosts festivals and a range of different exhibits and provides opportunities for the region to learn about its roots.

I was surrounded by country music as a child. Growing up in Salem, Lakeside Amusement Park attracted countless country music personalities and entertainers, with stars appearing from Conway Twitty to Rick Nelson.

Galax is the popular home to the Old Fiddler’s Convention. Held for nearly one hundred years, the convention attracts scores of musical competitors that play the fiddle, banjo, mandolin or guitar. The dates of this year’s convention are August 5-10. Governor Youngkin attended the 2023 Old Fiddler’s Convention and recognized its importance to Appalachian music.

Governor Youngkin proclaimed this year the “Year of Country Music” as Virginia celebrates all these milestones and anniversaries.

It is an honor to represent a region home to such rich musical traditions. I look forward to the joy and fun these festivals will bring not just this year, but for many years to come.

  • Congressman Morgan Griffith

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