An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | May 29, 2023

Remembering Their Sacrifice: Rear Adm. Michael Steffen Returns Home to Commemorate Memorial Day

By Lt. Chelsea Cannaday, Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command Public Affairs

Rear Adm. Michael Steffen, Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command, returned to his hometown to serve as the keynote speaker at the National D-Day Memorial’s observance event for Memorial Day, May 29, where hundreds of people gathered to honor and remember the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

Although inclement weather limited the event’s in-person attendance, people around the world were able to observe the event via livestream on

At the ceremony, Steffen delivered the keynote speech, then participated in a wreath laying ceremony alongside the Honorable Winsome Earle-Sears, Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“We are here today to remember and honor the legacy of those brave young men and the hundreds of thousands of other brave service members who raised their right hand and swore an oath of service,” said Steffen. “Memorial Day is a time to pause, to reflect, and to honor their courage and selfless sacrifice.”

June 6, 1944: the date of the largest amphibious assault in human history. Among the hundreds of thousands massed off the shores of Normandy were 44 soldiers, sailors, and airmen from Bedford, Va. 20 of those brave Virginians were killed in action that day. No other single American community suffered as much on D-Day as Bedford did. In comparison with its wartime population, Bedford suffered the Nation’s highest known per capita D-Day loss. This group of warriors became known as the “Bedford Boys”.
Because of the legacy of the “Bedford Boys”, the National D-Day Memorial was placed in in Bedford, Va.

Steffen stated, “When Alpha Company stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, they were living that legacy. A legacy of service and of the ultimate sacrifice. Bedford, as you know, suffered a devastating loss as a community. A loss that you can still feel today.”

He continued, “Those boys knew they were going first. They knew the chances of survival weren’t high, but they confronted it head on with courage and bravery. This memorial and this town keep their memory and the legacy of courage and bravery alive.”

Memorial Day also serves as a time to honor the families of those lost, who bear a burden that only they can comprehend.

He continued, “The Bedford boys, and all those who we are here to honor, possessed qualities of courage and selfless sacrifice… We need to remember the sacrifices of those who came before us to defend freedom and democracy.  We need to honor their memory and their selfless service, and never take for granted the freedoms they fought for on our behalf.”

The final portion of the Memorial Day event was a wreath laying ceremony in front of the monument’s Overlord Arch and reflecting pool, where various bronze sculptures by Kansas artist Jim Brothers depict the warfare experienced at the Normandy Landing. One of the bronze statues depicts a soldier wading ashore, his rifle lifted over his head; another shows a fallen soldier on the beach. Other soldiers are depicted helping wounded comrades, and in the distance, a group of soldiers rappel a cliffside.

Seeing these realistic scenes of warfare emphasizes to visitors the reason why we pause to remember. “A nation that takes the time to remember its fallen is a nation that’s destined to endure,” said Steffen.

Steffen explained some of the experiences he has had in his over 30 years of service, spanning peacetime and war.

“While Bedford will always be home, over the last 30 years I’ve deployed around the world as a Naval Aviator on aircraft carriers and based overland in Iraq supporting special operations forces. Currently, I am stationed in Norfolk, where I serve as the Commander of Navy Reserve Forces Command, in charge of the manning, training, and equipping of 58,000 Navy Reserve Sailors across the full spectrum of warfighting capabilities. Doing so with the values and foundational tools I learned growing up in Bedford,” said Steffen.

The mission of the Navy Reserve is to provide strategic depth and deliver operational capabilities to the Navy and Marine Corps team and Joint forces, in times of peace or war. Today and every day you can find nearly 100 U.S. Navy ships and submarines underway around the globe.

For more stories and the latest news and updates across the Navy Reserve Force, visit the official Navy Reserve website,, and follow the Navy Reserve on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.