Very near Smith Mountain Lake in the City of Bedford, Va. is the National D-day Memorial Foundation. If you have not made time to go visit it, this might be a good time to do so. In recognition of black history month, on Feb. 21st at 7 pm., the Memorial will examine how race relations during WWII had an impact on the tragedy that occurred at Port Chicago in 1944.
On the evening of 17 July 1944, SS E.A. Bryan was loading across the platform from SS Quinault Victory. The holds, packed with 4,606 tons of ammo, exploded in the night. The seismic shock wave was felt as far away as Boulder City, Nevada. In an instant, all 320 men on duty were killed. Nearly 400 were wounded. The blast caused damage 48 miles across the Bay in San Francisco. In the aftermath, Port Chicago led people to re-examine racial segregation policies. On 9 August, less than one month after the explosion, the surviving men from Port Chicago were to begin loading munitions. They told their officers that they would obey any order, but that one. See how their decision ultimately changed the future of race relations in America.
There is no charge for the program which will be held at the Bedford Welcome Center. A reception will follow. For more information call 540-586-3329 or visit www.dday.org.