Wreath Laying at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — Some 20,000 volunteers placed more than 110,000 wreaths on graves at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. It was the 21st annual wreath-laying event at the cemetery, and the largest number of wreaths ever delivered for the event. [Stars and Stripes, Wreaths Across America]
Donations for Secret Santa Due Tomorrow — Those who want to donate gift cards to the Arlington Department of Human Services’ “Secret Santa” program are asked to do so by tomorrow. The program provides a bit of holiday joy to children in foster care, people with disabilities, low income seniors and needy families. [Arlington County]
Garvey Sworn In — Libby Garvey was sworn in for her first full term on the Arlington County Board Friday evening. The event was complete with a reception and a Benjamin Franklin impersonator. County Board member Chris Zimmerman — whose consulting work was publicly scrutinized by Garvey recently — was not in attendance. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Sunday Money
Members of the non-profit group Wreaths Across America coordinated efforts not just here, but at cemeteries across the country. The organization’s website states: “Fresh evergreens are a symbol used for centuries to recognize honor, and a living tribute renewed annually. To use plastic wreaths that are put in storage each year is exactly the kind of tradition we want to avoid – it makes for great photos but misses the point… We want people to see the tradition as a living memorial to veterans and their families, whom we remember amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We believe that the sacrifices they made are more than worth the effort.”
The wreaths are currently on a solemn week-long journey from Maine to Arlington in what is sometimes referred to as “the world’s largest veterans’ parade.” The convoy stops at schools, monuments and veterans’ homes along the way as a reminder of the importance of remembering, honoring and teaching. Other trucks will head to participating cemeteries in all 50 states.
Donations can be made online through Thursday (December 13) for sponsoring wreaths to be laid on Saturday. A representative for the organization said “anyone and everyone is welcome” to show up on Saturday to assist with placing the wreaths. The convoy should arrive around 8:30 a.m. and volunteers are asked to arrive prior to the 9:30 a.m. opening ceremony and briefing. More information, a map and a schedule can be found online.
Last year, more than 15,000 volunteers spent nearly two hours placing around 90,000 wreaths. This year’s total of wreaths and volunteers is expected to exceed last year’s. The organization hopes to reach the 100,000 mark with wreaths this year.
All Arlington County courts, libraries, public schools, and administrative offices will be closed on Monday, Nov. 12.
The county’s three indoor swimming pools will be open under holiday hours. Metro and ART will be operating under a holiday schedule. Trash and leaf collection will proceed as normal.
Veterans Day became a U.S. holiday in 1919 to commemorate the end of World War I. The ceasefire that ended the war’s major hostilities took effect at 11:00 a.m. on 11/11/18.
The Veterans Day National Ceremony will take place at Arlington National Cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday.
Local veterans organizations will also be holding a Veterans Day ceremony on Sunday. From 1:00 to 1:30 p.m., there will be a remembrance ceremony at the Clarendon War Memorial at the intersection of Wilson, Clarendon and Washington Boulevards.
“Each year veterans from Arlington County’s Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion gather at the Clarendon War Memorial to remember local service members lost in past conflicts,” organizers said. The event will also remember an Arlington service member killed in action this year.
“There will be a special wreath presented in honor of Lance Corporal Niall Coti-Sears,” organizers said. “Lance Corporal Coti-Sears was killed in action in June of this year and is the first Arlingtonian to be lost in the Afghanistan war. Members of the public are encouraged to attend.”
Flickr pool photo by ameschen
According to a picket schedule on its website, the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, will send members to Arlington on Monday, November 12. They’re slated to protest at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd) starting at 7:40 a.m., the Pentagon starting at 8:50 a.m. and Arlington National Cemetery at 10:00 a.m.
The group has made stops in Arlington before, in part to perform protests of military funerals. Such protests have been fodder for lawsuits around the country, but the group’s right to protest at the funerals was upheld by the Supreme Court last year. The church has also made headlines for its prominent anti-gay message, for lauding the 9/11 attacks and for using controversial slogans such as “Thank God for breast cancer” on picket signs.
Although the church’s protests of the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery may not seem surprising, some question why it is targeting Yorktown. The church offered the following explanation on its website:
“Westboro will picket Yorktown High School because we know that Doomed america has turned the school systems into institutions to teach rebellion against God. Every adult that touches the lives of your children hate them, including parents, teachers, coaches, preachers. No truth to be found on the landscape. So you will all land in hell together, and there you will remain, bitter cursing and wailing and gnashing of teeth. How sad is that?! Not to worry, WBC brings HOPE! The Bread of Life. If you loath it, too bad, it is all you get.”
Currently, there have been no reports of plans for increased security or police presence at any of the three sites where protests are scheduled. Arlington County Public Schools Spokesman Frank Bellavia did note, however, that November 12 is Veterans Day, and school is therefore not in session.
The long-awaited process of demolishing the Navy Annex and its surrounding parking lots is scheduled to begin within the next month or two, officials tell ARLnow.com.
The 1 million square foot military office complex, first built in 1941 and located on the eastern end of Columbia Pike, will be torn down to make way for an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery. The entire 42-acre Navy Annex site, which includes a large surface parking lot on the other side of Columbia Pike, will be turned into a grass field in advance of an official transfer from the Department of the Army to Arlington National Cemetery in late 2013.
Demolition on the eastern wing of the Navy Annex is scheduled to start in November or December. The process will include abatement of asbestos and other hazardous materials. Demolition, site grading and seeding is expected to be complete by August 2013.
Columbia Pike should only experience “minimal” traffic impacts from the project; Southgate Road, which runs parallel to the Pike on the other side of the Navy Annex, is expected to see the majority of traffic disruptions.
The Navy Annex site is not expected to be used for burials for at least a couple of years. First, Arlington County and the federal government must come to a land swap agreement. The entities are still working on a deal to swap the county’s 4.23 acre Southgate Road right of way, and perhaps some other land, in exchange for a portion of the Navy Annex site.
The most recent land swap agreement — which has since fallen through, according to Arlington County federal liaison Brian Stout — called for construction of an Arlington County heritage museum on the site. At least a portion of the proposed museum would be used to commemorate the Civil War-era Freedman’s Village, which was once located on the site.
The county is also working with the federal government and VDOT to reach an agreement for a realignment of Columbia Pike. Currently, the Pike curves around the Air Force Memorial — located adjacent to the Navy Annex — and toward the cemetery before the intersection with S. Joyce Street.
Stout says the county is proposing that the Pike be straightened and run through the current Navy Annex parking lot, before making an L-shaped intersection with Joyce Street. That would make for an easier drive up the Pike and would make for a contiguous burial area that’s not divided by the busy road. The project has been discussed but so far no engineering plans are in place, Stout said.
Another point of discussion deals with parking for the Air Force Memorial. Stout said the current demolition plan seems to call for the demolition of a portion of the parking lot used by memorial visitors. If that’s removed, visitors may need to park on Southgate Road.
Takis Karantonis, Executive Director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, says the demolition presents an opportunity to improve the “eastern gateway” to the Pike. He said CPRO would like to see up to five stories of mixed use development along the Columbia Pike frontage of the tiny Foxcroft Heights neighborhood, located between the Navy Annex and the Sheraton National hotel.
“This is not the sightliest of places,” he said of the aging military building and the parking lots that line that section of the Pike. “Getting this redeveloped… is for us a welcome development. We think that the neighborhood will develop very nicely with that.”
Most of Foxcroft Heights is slated to remain single family homes under the recently-approved Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan.
A neighborhood information meeting about the demolition process is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Galaxy Room of the Sheraton National (900 S. Orme Street).
The incident happened around 11:00 a.m. According to U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Brooks, an officer approached a cab that was waiting for a fare on Memorial Drive, near the cemetery, and asked to see the driver’s hack (taxi) license. The driver refused, became disorderly and exited his vehicle without being asked to do so, Brooks said. There was some sort of confrontation and the officer used a Taser to subdue the driver.
Medics from Arlington County responded to the scene to evaluate the driver, per standard procedure following a Taser deployment. The driver was arrested, but Brooks was unable to say what he was charged with.
No word yet on whether the taxi was from D.C., Arlington or another jurisdiction cab.
VDOT Needs Residents to Check Trees — VDOT says it doesn’t have the resources to check all the trees along roads it maintains, so it sometimes relies on residents to tell them when a tree needs to be inspected or removed. VDOT-maintained roads in Arlington include Glebe Road, Lee Highway, Old Dominion Drive and parts of Washington Blvd. [Sun Gazette]
Art at Arlington National Cemetery — A new art exhibit at Arlington National Cemetery entitled “The Greatest Generation, A Visual Tribute,” is getting some help from amateur artists. About 500 people have contributed their own visual tributes to those who served in World War II on a “wall of thanks.” [WUSA 9]
Arlington Ridge Starbucks Opens Tomorrow — A new Starbucks Coffee store is opening tomorrow at 2925 S. Glebe Road, in the Arlington Ridge shopping center. [Twitter]
Melody Tavern Hosts Redskins Event — Melody Tavern (3650 S. Glebe Road) is hosting an event tonight to coincide with the season’s first Redskins pre-season game, against the Buffalo Bills. From 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., Melody Tavern will host a discussion with former Redskins Frank Grant (WR), Roy Jefferson (WR) and Darryl Grant (DT), according to a press release. There will also be a drawing for free Redskins tickets.
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Obama Speaks of Peace in Arlington Speech– In his Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama spoke of a “milestone” reached in the past year with the end of the Iraq war. “After a decade under a dark cloud of war, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon.” Mr. Obama also spoke of protecting veterans’ benefits. [Los Angeles Times, Associated Press]
Arlington Church Hosts Rolling Thunder Riders — The Arlington Assembly of God church, located just off Route 50 in the Arlington Forest neighborhood, hosted 300-400 Rolling Thunder riders over the weekend. The motorcyclists made camp outside the church or slept in the church itself. [Arlington Mercury]
Artisphere Gets First Artist-in-Residence — Local artist Beth Baldwin has been selected to be Artisphere’s (1101 Wilson Blvd) first artist-in-residence. Baldwin’s residency will stretch between now and November 11. Her 500 square foot studio will be located off of Artishpere’s main entrance lobby. “Baldwin will collaborate with Artisphere to create programming that involves her work and allows for visitors to learn more about her artistry, including ‘Plushie Design’ classes for all ages,” Artisphere said in a press release.
‘Flags-In’ Ceremony at Arlington National — As they have done every year since 1948, members of the “Old Guard,” 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, placed an American flag at every grave in Arlington National Cemetery yesterday evening. The annual “Flags-In” ceremony is held each year in advance of Memorial Day weekend. The flags will be removed after Memorial Day. [Houston Chronicle]
Shuttleworth Campaign Profiled — Bruce Shuttleworth, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Jim Moran for the Eighth District Democratic congressional nomination, says he’s running against the 11-term congressman because of alleged ethics violations. “I think he votes the right way on social values, but he brazenly embraces conflicts of interest, and I think that’s unacceptable,” Shuttleworth told the Washington Post. Shuttleworth’s campaign, however, seems like a long shot — in March a group called the Campaign for Primary Accountability pulled its support of Shuttleworth to focus on “races where challengers understand what they must do to prevail.” [Washington Post]
Guas Returns to New Orleans — Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Road) owner David Guas has returned to his native New Orleans — for the weekend. Guas will be appearing at the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a food festival, where he will demonstrate how to make “crawfish cheesecake” and then serve as a judge for the fifth annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-off. Guas is described by his hometown newspaper as ”a New Orleans-native, Harley-riding, duck-hunting, bass-fishing chef.” [New Orleans Times-Picayune]
Zapatat Tackles Tough Tattoo Removals — Ballston-based Zapatat (820 N. Pollard Street) has already attracted some 1,500 clients for its laser tattoo removal service. The business is now experimenting with a new laser removal process that is purported to remove tattoos in a quarter of the time of the usual method. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
This Monday, May 28, more than 100 volunteers from Memorial Day Flowers will hand out more than 50,000 roses at the cemetery. Visitors are given two roses, one to place on a grave, and one to take home in remembrance.
All of the flowers are donated by farmers throughout Ecuador. The idea was initiated by Ramiro Peñaherrera of Flowers for Kids. He’s part Ecuadorean and has family members buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Being that Ecuador is one of the largest rose producers in the world, he set out to get farmers there to donate roses for the cause.
“Hopefully in the future we will cover every grave site in Arlington, which I think is about 250,000,” said Nicholas Richwine, who does marketing for Memorial Day Flowers.
In addition to the roses, more than 1,000 bouquets from California will be given to American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., an organization of mothers who lost sons or daughters who were serving their country. Once volunteers place the bouquets on the individual graves, a photo is sent to each mother.
This year, the flower program expanded to other areas of the country, although Arlington is still considered the cornerstone location. More than 90 florists in 26 states have asked to participate in the commemorative program. They receive 400 roses to distribute, along with information about the program, at their local cemeteries or Memorial Day events.
Volunteers will hand out roses at Arlington National Cemetery from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Monday. The two main stations are in front of the visitors center and in section 60, which is the burial ground for those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Richwine adds that although the rose stations will be obvious, visitors will not see banners or other sources identifying Memorial Day Flowers. He said the goal of being at the ceremony is not to draw attention to the organization itself.
“These roses have been donated just to remember those who have fallen,” said Richwine.
Anyone interested in donating or volunteering should contact Memorial Day Flowers through its website.
The anniversary of the National Song of Remembrance will be marked with a ceremony on Saturday, May 19, in the cemetery’s Old Amphitheater. There will be participants from TAPS 150, an organization devised to commemorate the anniversary, along with Bugles Across America, an organization to recruit volunteers for playing Taps at veterans’ funerals.
Hundreds of buglers from around the country will take part in the ceremony, which starts at 10:00 a.m. There will be speakers, special music and a playing of Taps at the event. After that, the buglers will move to sites throughout the cemetery to simultaneously play Taps following the noon chimes.
“Buglers from all over the United States are coming to Arlington National Cemetery to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience of sounding Taps in America’s most sacred shrine,” the TAPS 150 website reads. “These are dedicated musicians who believe that a live sounding of Taps is not only appropriate but deserved and even indispensable for those who have served our nation in uniform.”
The website also claims the simultaneous playing should allow people to hear the echo of the tune nearly anywhere in Arlington.
The event is free and open to the public.
Taps was first arranged in July 1862 — during the Civil War — by Union General Daniel Butterfield. Butterfield created the tune to honor his fallen soldiers after the bloody Seven Days Battles near Richmond.
Photo by Tim1965
Since we first reported on the gravestone last week, we’ve learned that it is a private cemetery marker that was apparently removed from Arlington National Cemetery after a new headstone was put in place following the 1988 death of Patterson’s wife. (See photo of current gravestone, left.)
In a statement, Arlington National Cemetery said it is not responsible for the handling of private headstones.
“A private headstone is installed by a contractor hired by the family,” the cemetery said. “Arlington staff will coordinate the installation with the family-hired contractor. If the family chooses to replace a private headstone, then they would be responsible for hiring a contractor for replacement and disposal.”
Patterson was a World War I veteran who later served as a top military official during World War II and as Secretary of War immediately following the conflict. He died in a plane crash in 1952 and was given a Combined Services Full Honor Funeral, as documented in the book The Last Salute.
As of last night, Patterson’s weathered gravestone was still visible from the sidewalk along 11th Street N., within the Penzance office project construction site. A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site today.
The now-shuttered T.A. Sullivan and Son cemetery monument business is located within the site, but ARLnow.com has been unable to reach anyone associated with the business.
Photo courtesy Arlington National Cemetery
Update on 5/7/12 — We have published a statement from Arlington National Cemetery.
A weathered gravestone for Robert Porter Patterson, a top military official during World War II, can be seen propped up against an old building inside the future Penzance office construction site in Clarendon.
Patterson was the Undersecretary of War during World War II and is credited with being “instrumental in the mobilization of the armed forces preparatory to and during” the war. He later served as Secretary of War under President Harry Truman.
Patterson was also a Harvard Law School graduate, a decorated army officer during World War I, a U.S. District Court judge, a prominent New York City attorney, and president of the Council of Foreign Relations. He died in a plane crash in 1952 and was buried in Section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery.
It’s unclear how Patterson’s gravestone — inscribed “Soldier. Jurist. Statesman.” — came to be propped up against the aging brick building along 11th Street N., next to a small fenced-in parking lot. The structure is set to be torn down as part of a large new office complex that will soon be built on the site.
One likely explanation is that the gravestone was somehow connected to the now-shuttered T.A. Sullivan and Son cemetery monument business, which is located within the Penzance block and which provided monuments to Arlington National Cemetery. However, we were unable to reach anybody at the business’ Vienna location to confirm that.
Reached by phone, Arlington National Cemetery officials were unable to provide any information about the wayward gravestone, and were unable to confirm whether there is a newer monument now marking Patterson’s grave.
In 2010 the cemetery was rocked by a scandal after it was revealed that hundreds, maybe even thousands of graves were misidentified or misplaced and that a number of gravestones had been discarded along the banks of a small stream.
Hat tip to Peter Golkin
Update on 10/23/12 — Demolition is now set to begin in November or December.
The 70-year-old Navy Annex complex, on the eastern end of Columbia Pike next to the Air Force Memorial, is set to be torn down starting next month.
Demolition on the complex will begin in late May, according to Rep. Jim Moran’s office. The demolition process is expected to last a couple of months.
Until recently, the Navy Annex was home to administrative offices for the Marine Corps. It was originally built as a warehouse in 1941 and has 1 million square feet of office space for up to 6,000 workers, according to GlobalSecurity.org.
The 37-acre site, along with other surrounding land, will be used to expand Arlington National Cemetery.
Update at 12:20 p.m. — The ‘all clear’ has been given, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl.
Blue Line trains are bypassing the Arlington Cemetery Metro station due to a suspicious package outside the station.
U.S. Park Police, Metro Transit Police and the Arlington County Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating the package, which was reported at some point before 11:00 a.m.
Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said via Twitter that shuttle bus service is operating from Arlington Cemetery station to the Rosslyn Metro station.