As World War veterans, political leaders and civilians commemorated the 70th anniversary of the June 6, 1944 D-Day landing on Normandy, among the thousands of visitors paying homage on the Normandy beaches in France this past week were Art Musicaro and his son, Chris, of Wheeling.
The two Wheeling residents are participating in an 11-day Beyond Band of Brothers tour of Europe. The trip started at mid-week on Omaha and Utah beaches in Normandy. The travelers' itinerary included interaction with re-enactors in Normandy and access to D-Day celebrations.
Other stops on the tour include Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The Musicaros and their fellow tourists also are slated to visit Munich, Germany, and to take a tour of Hitler's Eagle's Nest mountain hideaway.
Musicaro's wife, Vicky, who stayed home, said, "Art is a very passionate WW II buff and has always said if he went to Europe it would have to include a trip to Normandy. This trip is his first time to Europe." She said their son has gotten interested in World War II history though his father. During the war, Art's father served in the Navy on a Destroyer Escort ship in the South Pacific and Art's high school football coach landed on one of the Normandy beaches.
By coincidence, when the Musicaros flew to Europe, another Wheeling area group was on the same plane going for a week in Paris.
Installation of the statue of the "father of West Virginia," Francis H. Pierpont, in Wheeling has been delayed a couple of months.
Organizers of the Pierpont project had hoped to unveil the statue on West Virginia Day, June 20, but the sculptor has encountered delays in completing the massive art work. It is now expected to be ready for installation in August. The Pierpont statue is to be erected on the corner of 16th and Market streets, in front of the state's birthplace, West Virginia Independence Hall.
Contributions for the statue are being given at a steady rate. Committee members indicated that about $30,000 more in donations is needed to complete the fundraising campaign.
Statue or no, the commemoration of West Virginia Day will launch a busy weekend of festivities in Wheeling.
At West Virginia Independence Hall, the annual celebration on Friday, June 20, will feature demonstrations by Civil War re-enactors and tours of the building with historic characters throughout the day. A commemoration ceremony will be presented in the courtroom at noon. Birthday cake will be served at 12:30 p.m. Beginning at 1 p.m., the Heritage Dance Association will perform dances of the Civil War period and invite audience members to participate.
The city of Wheeling's West Virginia Day celebration at Heritage Port will begin at 4:30 p.m. Friday, June 20, and will include a free concert on the waterfront.
Downtown will be jumping Saturday, June 21, when the free Wheeling Arts Fest takes place on 16th Street from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The venues for events are the West Virginia Northern Community College Square, West Virginia Independence Hall and Ohio County Public Library.
Meanwhile, the inaugural Challenge Wheeling team scavenger race, presented by Youth Services System, will be launched at the Wheeling Artisan Center at noon Saturday, June 21.
Bringing the action-packed weekend to a close, Friends of Wheeling will present the latest installment in its popular series of Greenwood Cemetery tours from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 22.
The tour, free and open to the public, will feature costumed characters telling the stories of 14 prominent "residents" of the beautiful cemetery.
Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer. net.