• Ash Rothlein of Hayesville was part of the ceremonies in Bedford, Va., to honor the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
    Ash Rothlein of Hayesville was part of the ceremonies in Bedford, Va., to honor the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

WWII veteran honored at D-Day anniversary

    Bedford, Va. – Clay County resident Ash Rothlein, 95, was one on of 100 World War II veterans to cross the stage and receive a medal of honor at the 75th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday at the National D-Day Memorial.
    The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Vice President Mike Pence, who honored U.S soldiers during his speech.
    “On behalf of a grateful nation,” Pence said, “we say one more time, thank you for your service, thank you for our freedom.”
    The ceremony consisted of flyovers by World War II airplanes and a historic video presentation with quotes from those who were there. Bedford lost more soldiers per capita in the famous battle than any other in the United States.
    Each year, Rothlein honors two of the Bedford boys by giving a gift to their sister, Lucille Boggess. Rothlein gave a speech by the Bedford Boys homage statue, to which he contributed $25,000 to help build. Rothlein added his medal, which was given to him by the French Foreign Legion, to the helmet of the statue.
    Rothlein has created the “Ash & Liz Rothlein Spirit of D-Day Scholarship fund” in honor of his late wife, Liz Rothlein. This scholarship is for graduating high school seniors, with an emphasis on financial need, academic ability and a record of community service.
    In his speech, Rothlein said, “We remaining aged World War II veterans want to target high school age youth from the nation that are committed to preserve the history, memory, legacy and lessons of the D-Day Normandy invasion. We want them to keep promoting the values and dreams we lived by.
    “In short, we want them to become the next generation of leaders to embark on a life of service.”
    On a previous journey, Rothlein returned to Omaha Beach in September 2017 with the help of friends and family. Rothlein’s goal is to return to the D-Day memorial for his 100th birthday.

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