Focus | Mourning in Bedford subject of new play
Story by Chris Graham
A group of young men from Bedford, about an hour and a half down the Blue Ridge Parkway from Waynesboro, were among the first Allied soldiers to storm the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, D-Day.
The Bedford Boys, they are known to us now, 22 of them, died in the hail of Nazi gunfire that rained down on them.
The loss to Bedford, population at the time 3,200, was the highest per-capita loss on D-Day of any community in the United States.
“All of those boys that died in minutes – that was just a story that I couldn’t get out of my head. It’s amazing what happened. In a community of 3,200, 22 died in minutes,” said Waynesboro author and playwright Duane Hahn, whose play on the Bedford Boys, Tuesday Mourning, debuts as a Waynesboro Players production tonight at the Kate Collins Middle School Auditorium.
The work on the play was an emotional journey for Hahn, who focused his telling of the Bedford Boys’ story on six of the young men. He eventually tracked down surviving friends and family, including the sister of two of the soldiers whose stories are featured in the play.
Hahn got help to that end from a name familiar to some in the Staunton area – Sergei Troubetzkoy, the former director of tourism in Staunton, who now serves in a similar capacity in Bedford.
“It’s very much alive,” Troubetzoy said of the raw feelings associated with the loss of the Bedford Boys, even 65 years later. “So many of the buildings associated with the Bedford Boys are still here, for example. The building that used to house Green’s Drug Store, which is where the telegraph office was, that’s still here. And the courthouse, which is where the soldiers were photographed before they marched off to war, that’s still here. And the train station that they left from.
“There are so many different sites where people are aware of the connection with the Bedford Boys. It was, it still is, a very small community. It was really small in the 1940s. It was a case where everyone knew each other,” Troubetzkoy said.
The story was an inspiration for the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” but the Bedford Boys themselves, outside of some really good books, have not had their story told in dramatic fashion until now.
“This is a story that I think needs to be told. And not just in books. There are some really good books on this topic, but I thought, This could be a play. We could help bring this to life in that way,” Hahn said.
WHEN: Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m.
WHERE: Kate Collins Middle School Auditorium, 1625 Ivy St., Waynesboro