D-Day battle flag named one of Virginia's endangered artifacts
The News & Advance, Lynchburg, Va.
BEDFORD, Va. — A battle flag owned by the National D-Day Memorial and flown on Utah Beach during the Normandy invasion has been named one of Virginia's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts.
The flag was donated to the memorial six years ago; the Bedford site announced its inclusion on the endangered list Monday.
The program was created by the Virginia Association of Museums to bring awareness to the importance of preserving significant artifacts across the state.
The 299th Combat Engineer Battalion, Company B, carried the flag ashore on June 6, 1944. Company B landed on Utah Beach amid heavy fire from German gun emplacements. Many soldiers died that day and many more were wounded.
The flag, which features the 299th insignia, is located in the archival storage area of the foundation's administrative offices in the town of Bedford.
It was one of 16 artifacts — and the only one from the Lynchburg area — announced last month as contenders for the top 10 list.
The public was invited to help narrow the list by voting; more than 181,000 online votes were cast. The selections, made by an independent panel of conservators and others, were announced Monday.
The top online vote-getter was an untitled painting by self-taught folk artist Minnie Ma Scyphers from the 1970s housed at the William King Museum in Abingdon.
Other winners include a water works map of Roanoke from 1888, the Rev. Robert Rose monument at St. John's Church in Richmond from 1751, and illustrations of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" from 1884.
April Cheek-Messier, the memorial's president, said the foundation is delighted to be selected for this preservation initiative.
"The fact that over 181,000 votes were cast by the public for the all the nominations confirms that preservation of cultural and historic artifacts matters greatly to the citizens of Virginia and Washington D.C. and beyond," she said in a news release.
Since opening in June 2001, the memorial has served as a destination for promoting and preserving the legacy of D-Day. The attraction is in Bedford in large part because of the Bedford Boys, a group of guardsmen from the Bedford area who suffered heavy casualties during the first wave of the invasion.
The flag is housed in a climate-control environment to help protect from further deterioration, Messier said. The foundation is concerned about deterioration around the flag's edges, its need for repairs and preservation and ultimately placing it on display in a special case to slow future wear and tear.
"It is absolutely critical that these items are properly cared for and preserved so that successive generations can enjoy them," Cheek-Messier said.
The Associated Press contributed.