CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Dozens of Charlottesville-area business leaders and veteran are honoring the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

The group will meet 5th District Congressman Denver Riggleman in Bedford Friday, May 24, to learn about some of the men and women from central Virginia who are honored at the National D-Day Memorial.

"It’s an opportunity for us to go down, learn more, and just kind of reflect on the sacrifices that our active-duty veterans are making and have made throughout their lifetime," Gratitude Executive Director Tom Freshwater said.

Friday’s trip was organized by the Freedom Fund, which is dedicated to improving the lives of local military members.

Organizers say there are more than 18,000 veterans in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the surrounding five counties.

The 75th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion is June 6.

Release from Gratitude Charlottesville:

[CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA - May, 2] Charlottesville based philanthropy, the Freedom Fund founded by Michael Kaminski celebrates National Military Appreciation Month. National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM) is celebrated every May and is a declaration that encourages U.S. citizens to observe the month in a symbol of unity. NMAM honors the current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including those who have died in the pursuit of freedom. To commemorate this important month, the Freedom Fund through its Gratitude Charlottesville Program ( will send more than 32 local business leaders and veterans to the National D-day Memorial in Bedford Virginia on May 24th for a day of contemplation and to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their country.

June 6, 2019 is a major milestone commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion. D-Day June 6, 1944 marked the turning point for the Allied Forces in WW2 but it came at a grave cost. Thirty-four Virginia National Guard soldiers from the town of Bedford Virginia were part of the landing at the Normandy beaches. Nineteen of them were killed during the first day of the invasion, and four more died during the rest of the Normandy campaign. The town and the "Bedford Boys" had proportionately suffered the greatest losses of the campaign, thus inspiring the establishment of the D-Day Memorial in Bedford.

Many of the local business leaders making this historic trip to Bedford are members of the Gratitude Charlottesville website, ( The website, a Freedom Fund initiative, has more than 100 local restaurants, retail stores and service companies that offer discounts to our military, police, and their families as a way of demonstrating their thanks for their service.

To express gratitude for and improve the lives of local military members, police and their families, the Freedom Fund fulfills its mission by raising funds and visibility for tax exempt organizations that promote the health, education and well-being of military services members, police and their families.