Officials at Joint Base Ft. Myer-Henderson Hall announced last week that yesterday, Monday, the trail, which runs from the Old Post Chapel to McNair Road’s intersection with Marshall Drive, would be closed.
The trail is closing to accommodate the expansion of Arlington National Cemetery with its “Millennium Project.” Besides the closure of the trail, more than 700 trees are set to be removed for the cemetery expansion, a plan that rankled local activists when the expansion was discussed in March.
The $82 million expansion is expected to add in-ground and above ground burial locations, columbarium space, committal shelters and infrastructure to support it. It will take over a parcel of undeveloped land next to Ft. Myer. The expansion is needed, according to cemetery officials, because the cemetery could run out of burial space within 12 years.
A new jogging path to replace the closed one is expected to be constructed after the project’s completion in spring 2016.
Photo via Google Maps
Fisette Staying Out of Confederate Name Issue — Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said he has too much other business to worry about in the coming months to get involved with the request to remove the name “Jefferson Davis” from Arlington roads. Fisette says he’s sensitive to the reasons behind the request to remove the Confederate leader’s name, but the process for removal is laborious and has to go through the state. [Sun Gazette]
Burst Pipe at Reagan National Airport — Trader Joe’s in Clarendon certainly wasn’t the only business affected by a burst water pipe during Tuesday’s cold weather. Some pipes burst at Reagan National Airport yesterday afternoon and flooded the area near the baggage claim terminals for American Airlines and United Airlines. [DCist]
Tomb Sentinels Brave Freezing Temps — Most people did what they could to bundle up and stay indoors yesterday, but members of The Old Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery are getting attention for braving the bitter cold. The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment posted a photo of one of the sentinels on its Facebook page and news organizations immediately spread the word. [WTOP, WUSA]
Flickr pool photo by @ddimick
Wreaths to Be Placed at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — Wreaths will be placed on nearly 130,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. Most of the wreaths are being made possible by a $250,000 donation from Google. [Washington Post]
Church Works to Package 100,000 Meals — More than 500 volunteers worked to package 100,000 non-perishable meals for hungry children around the world last week at Jefferson Middle School. The effort was organized by Grace Community Church. [Sun Gazette]
ACPD Hiring Recruit Officers — The Arlington County Police Department is looking to hire a number of entry-level police officers this winter. The application process involves a written exam, physical ability test, interview, polygraph test, psychological evaluation and medical evaluation. [PoliceOne.com, Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Members of the public are invited, starting at 1:00 p.m., to ring the Freedom Bell to honor a loved one who served in the military. The bell will be stationed at the west entrance of the Welcome Center.
Preceding the bell-ringing event, President Barack Obama will participate in the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at 11:00 a.m.
Arlington County’s government offices, meanwhile, will be closed for the federal holiday, as will courts, schools and libraries.
STAR will be closed and standing rides will be cancelled, and ART buses will not run, other than routes 41, 42, 51, 77 and 87, which will run on a Saturday schedule. All community centers will also be closed, with the exception of Arlington Mill Community Center (901 S. Dinwiddie Street), which will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Trash pickup will proceed as normal. County pools will be open on a holiday schedule.
Photo via Philliefan99
Tighter Security at Marathon — This Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon will include tighter security than years past. Camelback-style hydration backpacks have been banned, as have Halloween masks. Runners will only be able to check items in clear plastic bags. [WJLA]
Google Maps Arlington National Cemetery — Google has used its Street View technology to map Arlington National Cemetery from the ground. Using a backpack-mounted array of 15 cameras and a hired walker, the company has gathered 360 degree images from around the hallowed grounds. [Washington Post]
Virginia ABC Wine Tasting Crackdown — Virginia ABC is cracking down on wine tasting events organized by wine distributors. Virginia law only allows winemakers or winery representatives to hold tasting events in restaurants. Among the retailers impacted by the recent enforcement effort is Cheesetique, which has locations in Shirlington and the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. [Washington Business Journal]
Lawsuit Filed Over NSF Lease — The broker that helped arrange the National Science Foundation’s pending move from Arlington to Alexandria is suing Hoffman Family LLC, the owner of the land where the new NSF headquarters will be built. Hoffman is only offering to pay $1 million of the $6.7 million that Jones Lang LaSalle says it’s owed. The deal is also being criticized for incentives that exempted payments to Alexandria’s affordable housing fund. [Washington Post]
Plantations in Arlington — Writer Alison Rice takes a look back at some of Arlington’s former plantations. Among them are Abingdon Plantation, located on what’s now Reagan National Airport; Analostan Island, on what’s now Theodore Roosevelt Island; and Arlington House, the former home of Robert E. Lee. [Arlington Magazine]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
The coordinated flyover of more than 30 World War II-era planes has been pushed back until this weekend due to rain.
The National Air Trainer Association, which organized the “North American Texan” 75th anniversary flight, delayed it until approximately 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, weather permitting.
If the visibility is not good enough tomorrow, NATA’s Tom Malone said, they will fly on Sunday.
The decision will be made at about 7:00 a.m.
There is a 40 percent chance of rain Saturday, and a 30 percent chance of rain Sunday, according to Weather.com.
Friday’s ceremony will celebrate the “North American Texan” plane’s 75th anniversary. Friday afternoon at approximately 12:30 p.m., the planes will reach Arlington by way of a flight path that follows the Potomac River, according to the North American Trainer Association, which is coordinating the event.
More than 15,000 Texans were built between 1938 and 1947, according to the NATA, and more than 400 of them are privately owned and still in flight. They were the most popular plane used in American fighter-pilot training in the 1940s and 1950s.
The formation is expected to be visible from much of Arlington and Alexandria. The forecast for Friday as of Tuesday afternoon is a 60 percent chance of showers.
Photo courtesy of NATA
The Memorial Bridge will be closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic tomorrow (Wednesday) due to the 50th Anniversary March on Washington.
The event — which commemorates the anniversary of 1963 march and rally that featured Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech – will start at 9:00 a.m. with a 1.6 mile march throughout the District, and will culminate with speeches at the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool.
Among the planned speakers are President Obama, former presidents Clinton and Carter, and civil rights leaders. The program at the Lincoln Memorial will take place from 11:00 to 4:00 p.m. and is open to the public. Gates open at 9:00 a.m.
U.S. Park Police will close the Memorial Bridge to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic starting around 3:15 a.m. on Wednesday.
Metro is urging those attending the event to not use the Arlington Cemetery station due to the closure. Arlington Memorial Circle will remain open during the closure.
Man Accused of Attempted Rape in Office — An Arlington man is accused of trying to rape a woman in an office near Columbia Pike. Police say Michael McKeever, 31, entered an office on the 900 block of S. Monroe Street on Friday morning and tried to rape a female employee. The woman fought McKeever off, police say, and he was later arrested at his home. [Arlington County]
Sinkhole at Arlington National Cemetery — Crews are working to fix a 5 or 6 foot deep sinkhole on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. The sinkhole formed on a road in the cemetery due to a collapsed culvert, officials said. [Washington Post]
Record Adoptions for Lost Dog & Cat Rescue — A total of 323 dogs and cats were adopted out by Lost Dog & Cat Rescue in June, a record for the Arlington-based rescue organization. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Around 9:45 a.m., transit police responded to the Arlington Cemetery station for a report of a suspicious man seen urinating on a Blue Line train and walking between the cars. The train was held at the station as a transit police officer attempted to deal with the suspect.
From Metro spokesman Dan Stessel:
The officer directed the subject to exit the train. He refused to comply. She then asked the other passengers to clear the car for their safety, at which point the male moved past the officer, exited the train and ran toward the end of the platform, pushing other patrons as he attempted to enter the track area.
When confronted again on the platform, the subject attempted to push past the officer, and the officer used her department-issued [pepper] spray to gain control of the situation. The adult male was arrested for Assault on Police Officer. The railcar was isolated and passengers were moved to other cars of the train. Other charges may follow.
An Arlington paramedic unit responded to treat the suspect and the officer for pepper spray-related symptoms. Neither required transport to the hospital, Stessel said.
The 22-year-old suspect was arrested and processed at the Arlington County Detention Center.
The incident happened at the cemetery’s parking lot around 9:30 a.m., an hour and a half before President Obama was scheduled to lay a wreath at the cemetery.
According to a spokeswoman for Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBMHH), which has jurisdiction over the incident, a cemetery visitor returned to his car in the parking garage after visiting the gravesite of a friend. The man reportedly opened the door to his vehicle and tried moving a handgun from under the seat.
The privately-owned gun fell out of its holster and underneath the vehicle, however, and fired once as the man attempted to retrieve it. The discharged bullet hit the leg of a vehicle passenger — the man’s mother — who then had to be transported to George Washington University Hospital with a non-life threatening injury. Nobody else was injured.
Visitors are prohibited from bringing a gun to the cemetery, according to JBMHH spokeswoman Sharon Walker.
“Weapons of any type are not authorized on military installations or reservations such as [Arlington National Cemetery],” said Walker. “Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Police and Arlington National Cemetery security personnel responded to the call.”
The Ft. Myer Fire Department and the Arlington County Fire Department also responded to the incident.
The owner of the gun was an active duty military service member, according to JBMHH spokeswoman Leah Rubalcaba, and the charges are pending under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to Walker.
Photo via Google Maps
Obama Visits Arlington National Cemetery — President Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns on Monday during a visit to Arlington National Cemetery in honor of Memorial Day. In addition to remembering fallen service members, Obama asked that Americans “not forget our nation is still at war.” [Washington Post]
Record High County GOP Membership — The Arlington County Republican Party chairman says the county’s membership is at an all time high, at least over what is has been for the past decade. The number of members now stands at 139. [Sun Gazette]
Students Earn Latin Exam Medals — Forty-five Arlington Public Schools students have received gold medals for the scores they received on the National Latin Exam. Another 41 students received silver medals and 50 earned bronze medals. Three students earned a perfect score. The National Latin Exam is given in March to students at six levels of Latin and covers grammar, reading comprehension, Roman culture, history, geography and mythology and etymology. More than 500 students in Arlington joined the 154,000 students from around the world who took the exam. [Arlington Public Schools]
A new columbarium has opened at Arlington National Cemetery, just in time for Memorial Day.
Columbarium Court No. 9, as it’s called, has more than 20,000 niches for U.S. military veterans and their families. Each niche in the two-acre columbarium has space for 3-4 urns. The project cost $15.6 million and began in January 2012.
A dedication ceremony was held for the columbarium earlier this month. The ceremony included the burial of the unclaimed remains of six war veterans from the Civil War, the Vietnam War and World Wars I and II.
Columbarium Court No. 9 is 2.5 times bigger than the cemetery’s next-largest columbarium. Rockville-based contractor Forrester Construction, which built the new facility, described its construction in a press release.
This project, awarded to Forrester by the US Army Corps of Engineers, required near perfect quality and pristine finishes ensuring longevity and suitability in the greenscape of Arlington National Cemetery. It involved significant grading, landscaping, environmental management and installation of decorative and commemorative stonework, including flagstone walkways.
Columbarium Court No. 9 is nearly the length of two football fields at 116-feet wide, 11-feet tall and 540-feet long. The foundation of the structure is auger cast piles ranging in depth from 15 to 25 feet. More than 6,000 cubic yards of poured-in-place concrete clad with limestone and granite was used to build the structure. The project features interior and exterior landscaping with a central water fountain, new irrigation and underground electrical systems and storm water management.
The project was completed three months ahead of schedule and, according to Forrester, under budget.
The columbarium will help extend Arlington National Cemetery’s effective life as a final resting place for the country’s war dead. While the cemetery will always remain open to the public, it will eventually run out of space for new burials.
“Without the Columbarium Court No. 9 expansion, Arlington National Cemetery would have run out of niche space in 2016,” said Kathryn A. Condon, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries. “By adding more than 20,000 niche spaces for our veterans and their families, Columbarium Court No. 9 is extending the life of the cemetery for years to come.”
Some local residents are fighting another effort to add new burial spaces at the cemetery. Arlington National Cemetery’s Millennium Project will include a new columbarium and additional in-ground burial spaces — for up to 30,000 military veterans and their families — but will also result in the loss of about 800 older trees.
Photos courtesy Forrester Construction and U.S. Army
(Updated at 12:00 p.m.) Non-profit organization Preservation Virginia has named Arlington National Cemetery to its list of the state’s most endangered sites.
Each year the group chooses historical sites it believes have become threatened due to neglect, insufficient funding, inappropriate development or public policies and procedures. The cemetery made the list due to the Millennium Project, an expansion project requiring the removal of trees on 12 wooded acres, and the removal of portions of the red sandstone Seneca Wall, which was constructed during the late 1800s.
Around 800 trees would be removed from the cemetery as part of the plan, although about 600 would be replanted. Preservation Virginia’s concerns surround not only the tree removal, but also the amount of soil being moved, the extent of the new retaining walls to be constructed and the road to be built across a stream that is “likely to irreparably alter the topography and run counter to the objectives of Congress.”
This isn’t the first complaint about the Millennium Project’s plan for tree removal. Arlington residents and members of citizens groups, such as the Arlington Urban Forestry Commission, have voiced displeasure with the plan. In March, a number of people spoke out against the tree removal during an open house at the site.
Preservation Virginia said the following in a written statement:
“Preservation Virginia respects the mission of Arlington National Cemetery to provide for military interments, but along with other partner preservation organizations believes that there is a better way to create additional burial space while also respecting the significant contributions of Arlington House Woods and the existing, historic boundary wall to this sacred place… Preservation Virginia urges the Army Corps of Engineers to revisit the Environmental Assessment and to seek an expansion alternative that respects the historic significance of Arlington Woods, protects its historic landscape, and provides for additional burial space.”
Preservation Virginia’s full list of endangered sites for 2013 can be found on its website.
Britain’s Prince Harry paid his respects to fallen U.S. servicemembers at Arlington National Cemetery this morning.
The prince, who served as a British Army helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, took a solemn tour of Section 60, the final resting place of many American military personnel who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. He then laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in a full honors ceremony, before a large crowd of tourists and journalists.
Harry, who’s third in line to the British throne, also left a wreath in Section 60, with a handwritten note that read: “To my comrades-in-arms of the United States of America, who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of freedom.” It was signed “Captain Harry Wales.”
The visit to the cemetery will be followed by a trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to visit wounded veterans. Harry will then continue his week-long visit to the United States, with stops in Colorado, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Additional photos from Prince Harry’s visit to Arlington National Cemetery can be found here.