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Virginia Tech pitches in to create an immersive D-Day Memorial experience in Bedford

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Illustration by David Franusich for Virginia Tech.

June 6 marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied forces’ invasion of Normandy, France, during World War II.

The national memorial in Bedford will include moving pictures and sounds for the first time this year.

Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology pitched in to create an experience with short audio-visual presentations that will include first-hand accounts and utilize the memorial itself as the backdrop.

“D-Day changed our world, and the men and women who participated should never be forgotten,” said April Cheek-Messier, president and CEO of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation. “It was a pivotal event in our history, and it is now the responsibility of each of us as citizens to reflect on what they did to preserve freedom for us all.”

The goal was to create a truly immersive experience. Having worked with Virginia Tech before, the foundation knew ICAT had the creativity and talent to make their vision a reality.

“It’s a 25-minute projection show, telling the story of D-Day through first-hand accounts,” said David Franusich, ICAT’s multimedia designer on the project. “We accomplished it using archival illustrations, photos, and film footage — carefully assembled, animated, and projection-mapped along with spatialized audio.”

The National D-Day Memorial opened in 2001. Bedford was selected as its location because the town lost 20 residents as a result of the invasion making it the United States’s highest known per capita D-Day loss.

“It is an honor for ICAT to contribute to this national moment of remembrance,” said Ben Knapp, executive director. “I am proud of the uniquely transdisciplinary team of students and faculty at ICAT who used collaborative and iterative design to create a compelling narrative brought to life with a multimodal array of lighting, projection-mapped visuals and immersive audio.”

The memorial is located at 3 Overlord Circle in Bedford.

Tickets are required for some events.

For more information, visit dday.org/80th/schedule/

Event schedule

June 6 (no tickets required)

  • 11 a.m.: Observation of the 80th anniversary of D-Day includes recognition of World War II and D-Day veterans, music, speakers, military vehicles, living history displays and book signing

June 7 (tickets required)

  • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Tours of the National D-Day Memorial
  • 7:30 p.m.: Opening concert
  • 9 p.m.: Projection show on the memorial monument

June 8 (tickets required)

  • 7:30 p.m.: Opening concert
  • 9 p.m.: Projection show on the memorial monument

June 9

  • 11 a.m.: A field chapel service. Admission is free from 10 a.m. to noon.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.