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UVA Alumni Explore Normandy on D-Day Anniversary - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVA Alumni Explore Normandy on D-Day Anniversary

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A group of University of Virginia alumni spent Thursday - the 69th anniversary of the D-Day invasion - in Normandy reliving history. The group is as close to D-Day history as you can get – spending the day touring the Omaha and Utah beaches.

Although the UVA graduates are thousands of miles away, NBC29 caught up with them via Skype during their trip.

"With this group of Virginians we're sort of reconnecting with American history that unfolded here in France," said William Hitchcock, a history professor at UVA.     

The group also reconnected with Central Virginia, visiting the grave site of an Esmont native that died on D-Day.  Frank Peregory - born in Esmont in 1915 - is buried at the American military cemetery in Normandy.

"We paid our respects to his memorial in the cemetery," said Hitchcock.  

Peregory was the sole Virginian in the 29th Division awarded a Medal of Honor. The medal was given to only 14 of the 300,000 Virginians who served in the war.

Hitchcock says the group is honored to have met several veterans of D-Day while in Normandy.

"They are enormously proud, they are often wearing their red flannel pants and their blue blazers, decked with medals," said Hitchcock.   

Hitchcock says he feels a sense of solidarity between the group and the French.

"Whenever this anniversary comes around on the calendar you'll find that French people are welcoming Americans with open arms, with a lot of respect and a lot of solidarity," said Hitchcock.

The group will stay in Normandy until June 9.

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