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Short on funds, Bedford D-Day Memorial may close

By Courtney Cutright

BEDFORD

The National D-Day Memorial is running out of cash.

The problem is so dire that the World War II memorial honoring the largest land, air and sea operation in military history is at risk of closing - and the news comes just days before a major celebration planned for D-Day's 65th anniversary, June 6.

Since the memorial opened in 2001, the foundation has been besieged by problems: millions of dollars in debts, Chapter 11 bankruptcy and a high-profile alleged fraud case in federal court.

Bedford was chosen as the site for the D-Day Memorial because the community suffered the highest per-capita loss in the first wave of combat during the mission in 1944. Nineteen of 32 servicemen who joined the Virginia National Guard in Bedford died.

All debts for the memorial were paid off in late 2006. The problems the foundation faces today are new.

"We're in a cash-poor state, as many nonprofits are," said the memorial foundation's president, William McIntosh.

The foundation has $300,000 in unrestricted cash and maintains an endowment of $400,000, he said. It is unclear how long the memorial can operate on those funds. But before closing it, the foundation's board would enact cost-saving measures such as furloughs, McIntosh said.

The foundation operates on a $2.2 million annual budget. About $600,000 - or 27 percent- is generated by people who visit the memorial, in the form of ticket sales, tours and gift-shop purchases. The rest comes from contributions, and that revenue flow has slowed with the economy.

A significant infusion of cash is needed to sustain the operation, McIntosh said. For example, he said, the memorial could operate on the interest from an endowment of $32 million, but that "still would not be enough to do any more than we are doing now," he said.

Something has to be done, he said, because the current model is not sustainable. "The board of the foundation is not supposed to take on additional debt or any debt beyond the obvious day-to-day operations of the memorial," McIntosh said.

Another possible fix for the memorial would be for an umbrella agency to take over operations. The ideal fit, McIntosh said, is the National Park Service, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Bedford County Administrator Kathleen Guzi said the county would be glad to have the Park Service step in, because taking over the memorial isn't something that interests the county. "I don't think it would make sense for us to run a national monument," she said.

But the memorial is not something the county or Bedford city would want to lose altogether, especially after the two localities invested $2.4 million in a welcome center nearby.

"Our office has had preliminary conversations with the folks at the Memorial about their current situation, and we are actively working with them to explore the potential options," Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., wrote in an e-mail.

Said McIntosh: "I think it should become a pendant to the National World War II Memorial. If D-Day is the climactic battle of the war and it receives, relatively speaking, scant attention at the World War II Memorial, it might be appropriate to have someplace to have a closer look at this one fight."

Posted to: Military Virginia

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Well, if they want

to squander stimulus money here would be a good place to do it!

How awful

It will be a terrible slap in the face to the brave people who served!! I was fortunate enough to visit this memorial on the 60th anniversary of D-Day with my grandfather before he passed away. I wish their was something more I could do. The Gov't is bailing everone else out, maybe they can help honor a turning point for the entire free world. This place is amazing and if you have seen it you know how touching it truly is. What a shame.

How about donating

If you want it to remain then make a donation. Don't expect government to do everything.

Rewriting History

I suppose this monument isn't important anymore to those on the left. According to the new double-speak, Europeans are now saying they never needed the Americans to bail them out. They were doing just fine, and the Russians and English were driving out the Germans. Isn't it interesting how history is re-written to serve someone's political agenda, albeit a very false one? Maybe these history revisionists should ask the opinion of the surviving WWII vets who liberated Europe and the sacrifices of the many American boys who lost their lives so somebody could rewrite history?

2.2 million a year to run a

2.2 million a year to run a memorial? Sounds a little high to me.

Memorial

This would be a shame...My family lives in Bedford and this is a beautiful monument with great sculptures reflecting the battle they faced at Omaha beach...This little town was picked because of losing the most per capita of men in their guard unit on that beach on D-Day...The loss of this dedication to the soldiers lost that day would be tragic to the remaining survivers.. Hope something can be done to help this monument survive...

Comment

"Well, if they want to squander stimulus money here would be a good place to do it!"

If anyone believes that funding this memorial is squandering anything, then you have a poor sense of history and apparently a poor opinion of our veterans. Neither is this a political issue of "us" versus "them". It's about Americans who sacrificed their lives for our country. Before you post thoughtless comments take a trip to Bedford and visit this beautiful and evocative memorial. It was not funded by the government and subsists solely by private donations. If it is forced to close than we can only lay that responsibility on ALL Americans regardless of political affiliation.

Waste

Such a waste of money. If the people who really need/want this type of stuff wont support it then let it close.

One thing the government should take over

This is one place where government intervention would be a good thing. It is such an important part of history that it should be remembered and this memorial should be preserved and kept open. I wouldn't mind my tax dollars going towards it.

It is shameful that some of the commenters here would politicize such an issue: wars do not discriminate between political parties and no one should use this to spew political rhetoric over.

D Day Memorial

THey have the main WW II memorial on the mall in DC, and are bussing veterans in from all over the country to see it.I think Bedford over reached and I know when I was by there and wanted to see it the admission fee was more than I cared to spend to see a grouping of statues and memorials. The State is cutting essential services, and another memorial to vets is not an essential service. If they want it to survive then they need to donate to it. In today's world you have to have interactive exhibits to attract tourists (See the Marine Corps Mus. in Quantico) and in these times be easily accessible and budget conscious. The WW II Memorial meets none of these criteria unfortunately.

Why did nobody ask WHY it

Why did nobody ask WHY it costs $2.2 million a year to run a memorial? Perhaps it would still be going strong if it had a reasonable budget to begin with.

As much as I feel all WW2

As much as I feel all WW2 vets deserve this memorial, I'd like to see the 2.2 million dollar budget before any government funds are spent. How much does it cost to cut the grass and keep the monuments clean?

Then again, if it wasn't for the WW2 vets we wouldn't have the freedom to express our views freely here on the internet.

Let's hope they find the needed funds through private contributions.

Why would anyone question..

that such memorials have expenses? $2.2 million seems reasonable. It's a big, multi-faceted entity, it sells merchandise and memorabilia, and it is constantly receiving new display items, which often have procurement and transportation costs. There are salaries to pay for various personnel, including security, maintenance, merchandising, management, etc. This loaction should be taken over by the US Park Service. This is part of the infrastructure that the stimulus should address. That would be money better spent than propping up select unions and campaign contributors who will face the inevitable in the way of bankruptcy despite the trillions thrown their way!

What a shame

For this important memorial to close would be a shame. I attended the dedication ceremony with my father, a survivor of the D-Day battle, and it was a very special occasion that day for him and all of our family. He was treated like the hero he is. The memorial is beautiful and a great tribute to all who sacrificed that day on the beaches of Normandy.

It was doomed from the start

Emotionally, it made sense to put it in Bedford. Practically, it was a stupid decision. How many people are going to go that far out of their way to see a single monument? Those coming to see D.C. can get their fill of such monuments there, including the WWII monument, and those are free.
Those of you writing and implying that anyone who's against pumping more money into this bottomless pit are being unpatriotic or hostile towards the military etc., are just wrong. If a D-Day memorial needed to be built, it should have been built closer to D.C., or just about anywhere tourists are drawn to anyway for other sights. It is a beautiful memorial. It's a shame it was built where it was. I say, pack it up and move it to D.C. where millions will appreciate it. The last thing we need is for the country to go even deeper into debt by having the National Park Service assume responsibilty. The handful of visitors doesn't justify it.

A beautiful and well placed monument

For those of you who have not been-go. It was a beautiful ride on the back of a motorcycle with my husband and friends. A weekend trip that is well worth the ride/drive. Bedford is a quaint town with many good places to eat. For the history buffs-it was absolutely amazing. We support the heck out of Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown-why not continue to support the local economy by visiting Bedford?

Should become a National Park

Maybe the Department of the Interior could take it over and call it a national park. It was a national event and the memorial should continue to operate. I agree that the 2.1 million budget is a bit high. If they paid off their debts in 2006, where are the expenses coming from? Regardless, make it a national park.

dday memorial

whatever it takes to save this must be done,if it means the feds taking over so be it.
i am priviledged to know dday vets in the area and mr nance and mr stevens were friends.
what troubles me most is why does it keep falling into financial troubles-salaries need to be cut-for a non profit talk of salaries ive heard are ridiculous and allegations that with large salary no donations given by certain folks. a beautiful town with wonderful friendly people and a fitting tribute to dday vets honoring them and the community they came from.

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