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.
Prince Harry Visits Arlington Nat’l Cemetery – Britain’s Prince Harry is visiting Arlington National Cemetery this morning as part of his two-day visit to the Washington area. The prince is expected to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and to visit the burial area for military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. [NBC Washington]
Now Official: Whole Foods to Pentagon City — Whole Foods has made it official and signed a deal with Vornado to open a 37,000 square foot store in on the ground floor of a planned 700-unit apartment building in Pentagon City. The store will be the company’s second in Arlington, and is expected to open in 2017. [Washington Business Journal]
Wieners Added to Testicle Festival – The Fairfax County-based Top Dog food truck has been recruited to serve hot dogs at next weekend’s Montana State Society Testicle Festival in Virginia Square. Jed Link, an organizer of the event, called the combination of Rocky Mountain Oysters and hot dogs “a culinary reunion that’s guaranteed to entertain.”
Flickr pool photo by Martin Humm
Arraignment for Air Force Officer — Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, the airman who was removed from his post as head of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program after being accused of sexual battery in Crystal City, is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in an Arlington County courtroom. While the Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney office is prosecuting the case, the Air Force has the option of bringing its own case against Krusinski. [Associated Press]
CivFed Opposes Tree Removal at Cemetery — The Arlington County Civic Federation voted Tuesday to oppose a plan to remove 800 trees at Arlington National Cemetery in order to make way for about 30,000 in-ground burial spots and niche spaces. The resolution asks Arlington’s congressional delegation to sponsor legislation to stop the plan and asks the County Board to officially support the legislation. [Sun Gazette]
Four Students Earn Nat’l Merit Scholarships — Four Arlington students have been awarded National Merit Scholarships. The students receiving the $2,500 scholarships are: Ariel Bobbett and Elizabeth Roy of Washington-Lee High School, Nicole Orttung of Yorktown High School, and Robert C. Wharton of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. [Arlington Public Schools]
Day One of School Board Caucus — The first day of the Arlington County Democratic Committee endorsement caucus for School Board will take place tonight from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Drew Model Elementary School (3500 23rd Street S.). The second day of party voting will take place on Saturday. Incumbent James Lander is facing off against challenger Barbara Kanninen for the Democratic endorsement. [Arlington Democrats]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Expect to see a large tethered balloon over Arlington National Cemetery tomorrow afternoon.
The balloon will be flying over the cemetery between noon and 7:00 p.m. to “to help conduct a height study of Washington, D.C.,” according to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall spokesman Stephen Satkowski.
The aerial photography company that’s coordinating the balloon, Falls Church-based Digital Design & Imaging Service Inc., was unable to answer any questions about the project, and referred us to a New York-based architecture firm, which so far hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
Prince Harry to Visit Arlington — Britain’s Prince Harry will be in the U.S. for six days in May, and Arlington is among his stops. His trip includes a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, where he will pay respects to those killed in recent conflicts. Prince Harry will also stop at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to visit wounded warriors, and Capitol Hill to see an exhibition on clearing landmines. [Reuters, Washingtonian]
Tea Party Calls for Action Against “Soviet” Arlington — The streetcar town hall meeting tomorrow night (Wednesday) is drumming up a lot of attention, including a post in the Northern Virginia Tea Party Newsletter. It posted “A Letter from behind the lines in Soviet Arlington,” calling on streetcar opponents to attend the meeting to demonstrate against what it calls “the county board’s pet streetcar project.” [Blue Virginia]
Arlington Unemployment Sees January Increase — The county’s unemployment rate experienced a bump up from December to January, rising from 3.3 percent to 3.9 percent. Figures released last week show there were nearly 131,200 Arlington residents in the civilian workforce in January, with more than 5,300 looking for work. Such unemployment bumps are not unexpected following the holidays, and also occurred in the surrounding areas of Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Alexandria and Prince William County. Arlington still has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, with the exception of the town of Leesburg (3.7 percent) which is not included in the rankings. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by J.D. Moore
Barring an act of Congress, a planned expansion of Arlington National Cemetery will move forward, despite the objections of some residents who say the plan will cut down too many trees and destroy a natural habitat.
Cemetery leaders and the Army Corps of Engineers, which designed the expansion plan, held an open house and site visit last Saturday to brief residents about the recently-updated plan, show them the site, and listen to their comments. The comments were mostly critical.
“There will be 800 trees taken down. That’s a really big loss for the community,” said one resident who declined to provide her name. “I think there would be lots of veterans who would like to be in a place where the birds are singing and creating nests.”
The Millennium Project, as the plan is called, will expand the cemetery’s burial space to a sloped parcel of undeveloped land adjacent to Fort Myer. The expansion is necessary, officials say, because the cemetery could run out of burial space within 12 years.
More than 700 native trees and nearly 70 dead and invasive trees will be removed, though the Cemetery plans to replant 600 trees as part of the project. Between in-ground burial spots and niche spaces in columbariums, the land is expected to provide a final resting place for up to 30,000 military veterans and their spouses.
Critics of the plan say that the loss of older, mature woodlands will have an outsized impact on the natural habitat, given that much of the rest of Arlington County is urbanized. Such older woodlands would take generations to replace, essentially making them “irreplaceable,” said critics, including members of several citizen groups like the Arlington Urban Forestry Commission.
Cemetery officials, however, say that the land was clearcut during the Civil War and that most of the trees are 50-100 years old, with the oldest at about 145 years old — not meeting the true definition of an “old growth” forest. Further, they say that clearing out the invasive species that have taken root in the current woodlands will provide a better environment in the long run, as the replanted trees grow and mature.
The plan presented last weekend was actually a more environmentally-sensitive revision of a cemetery expansion plan from 2006 that would have clearcut the land and filled in a stream that runs down the middle of it. Instead, the stream will be preserved, the trees adjacent to the stream will be saved, and a small grove of trees in the middle of the land will also be saved, for aesthetic purposes.
Critics of the plan said there are better options than cutting down a mature woodland. Options suggested included clearing invasive species and using the woodland as a place for loved ones to scatter ashes after cremation; converting one of the Pentagon’s parking lots into burial space; limiting expansion of the cemetery to the Navy Annex site; and accelerating the creation a new national military cemetery.
“Long term, you’re going to have to move off anyway and do this sort of thing elsewhere,” said Arlington resident and conservationist Mark Haynes. “Arlington has so little in terms of woods left… why take this now? Leave this here as part of the hallowed ground. You’ve got plans for the long term anyway, why not start them now?”