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]
Memorial Day Closures — Arlington County courts, offices, libraries, and schools will be closed for the Memorial Day holiday on Monday. Arlington’s three indoor public pools will be open on a holiday schedule on Monday. [Arlington County]
State Police Increasing Patrols — Virginia State Police say they’re increasing patrols statewide this weekend. “The additional patrols statewide are part of the annual Operation C.A.R.E., (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries associated with speed, failure to wear seatbelts and impaired driving. The state-sponsored, national program encourages law enforcement,” VSP said in a press release.
Bonchon Chicken to Offer Growlers – Korean chicken restaurant Bonchon is hoping to open its new Arlington location at 2201 N. Pershing Drive in mid-July. In addition to chicken, the eatery will have “a dozen beers on tap, including craft options, and growler service to cater to the restaurant’s carryout clients.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington’s Marv Albert Anniversary — On May 27, 1997, Arlington was in the news as sports broadcaster Marv Albert was arrested and booked by Arlington County Police, accused of sexually assaulting a woman at the Pentagon City Ritz Carlton hotel. [About.com, New York Times]
The Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church, and East Falls Church stations will all be closed from 10:00 p.m. Friday to system closing on Monday (Memorial Day). The closures will allow crews to perform switch replacements, rail joint eliminations and tie and insulator renewal, Metro said.
Orange Line trains will operate between Ballston and New Carrollton at normal weekend intervals.
Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Ballston and Vienna. Express buses will run directly from Ballston to Vienna and back, while local buses will stop at all the stations in between. Metro says those taking local buses should add up to 40 minutes to their travel time, while those taking the express bus should add 25 minutes.
The three parks — Drew Playground (3514 22nd Street S.), Hayes Park (1516 N. Lincoln Street) and Lyon Village Park (1800 N. Highland Street) — will open on Saturday will remain in service until Labor Day weekend. Hours of operation can be found online.
All three parks will be open from noon to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Memorial Day, according to Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. (On holidays, like Memorial Day and July 4, normal hours are preempted and the parks are open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
The new sprayground at Virginia Highlands park is expected to open “in a couple of weeks,” Kalish said.
(Updated on 5/24/13) The annual motorcycle rally known as Rolling Thunder will rumble into Arlington tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.
As in previous years, residents who live along I-395 and Route 1 can expect to hear the roar of motorcycle engines as hundreds of bikers make their way to the rally’s official hotel, the Hyatt Regency at 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway in Crystal City.
According to the event’s official schedule, Rolling Thunder participants are expected to arrive at the hotel around 3:00 p.m. Friday.
Also on the event’s Memorial Day weekend agenda: a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C. at 9:00 p.m. Friday, music and speakers at the Reflecting Pool from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, and a rally in the Pentagon parking lot from 7:00 a.m. to noon on Sunday.
Drivers can expect some road closures around the Pentagon on Sunday morning as a result of the rally. From Arlington County:
The Arlington County Police Department will close part of Washington Boulevard near the Pentagon on Sunday, May 26, 2013, for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally. From 7:00 a.m. to approximately 4:00 p.m., Washington Blvd. (Route 27) will be closed from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge.
In addition, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.
Motorists should expect large numbers of motorcyclists in Northern Virginia and the entire Washington Metropolitan area this weekend.
Rolling Thunder is now in its 26th year.
The organization forecasts that 873,500 area residents will travel 50 miles or more from home this weekend, down nearly 2 percent from 890,600 last year.
Of those traveling, 795,000 (91 percent) will travel by car and 58,500 (6.6 percent) will travel by plane, AAA said. The air travel forecast is 10 percent below the 65,106 residents who traveled by air around this time last year.
The association blamed the drop in travel on the federal government sequester.
“Call it the ‘sequester siesta’ or ‘sequestration frustration’ and it is pulling down government spending across the national capital area,” AAA said in a press release. “Although they traveled at this time last year, many would-be travelers say they are cutting back on their vacation and sunny day travel plans for the time being. The sequester is lasting longer than first expected, and now most local workers are assuming the across-the-board federal spending cuts will continue throughout the summer months, the busiest travel season of the year, and it appears they are adopting a wait-and-see attitude.”
Of those traveling this weekend, almost two thirds are visiting family or friends. AAA says a third of all local travelers are going to a waterfront destination like the Maryland or Delaware shore.
So are you taking a “sequester siesta,” as AAA calls it, or are you planning to travel out of town this Memorial Day weekend?
ARLnow.com readers have spoken, and the photo above — “Morning Coffee at Iwo Jima” by Kevin Wolf — has been chosen as the best of the best in our pre-Memorial Day Summer Photo Contest.
The winning photo received 226 votes. “Fourth of July Fireworks from the Netherlands Carillon” by Clint Farrell was a close second with 210 votes, while our third place winner, ”Douglas Park Fire Station” by Mary Troyan, received 183 votes.
Kevin, Clint and Mary will receive $100, $50 and $25 gift cards, respectively, to Fire Works Pizza in Courthouse (2350 Clarendon Blvd). Kevin will also receive a ARLnow.com tote bag. Thank you to Fire Works for sponsoring our contest and helping to give us give us some summer scenes to look forward to as we counted down the hours to Memorial Day weekend.
Here’s wishing you and yours a great holiday weekend, Arlington.
‘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.
(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) In preparation for Memorial Day, there’s a place in Arlington that might be worth a look — and it’s not Arlington National Cemetery.
Thousands pass by it daily, but many don’t realize that the large, stone structure flanked by cannons across from Clarendon Ballroom (and near the Clarendon Metro station) is actually a war memorial. It was put up by the American Legion and honors Arlington citizens who died in combat, up through Vietnam.
Of particular interest to historians is the World War I plaque on the side of the memorial, facing the intersection of Washington, Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards. Note that the last two names are separated from the others and have the distinction of “colored” listed in parentheses.
County historians say this highlights the racial tensions at the time the plaque was made. However, a local resident with knowledge of the memorial’s history, who requested not to be named, says it wasn’t necessarily a sign of racial tensions. He said it’s simply representative of “how life was at that time.” There’s been debate over changing it, but the decision was made to leave the plaque as is.
The plaque has remained this way during the memorial’s multiple moves. The original location was at Wilson Blvd and Highland Street, then Clarendon Circle, then Courthouse. It was brought back to Clarendon in 1986 and has been there ever since.
The memorial was first erected in the early 1930s.
Westbound I-66 is slow from Rosslyn to Falls Church. Meanwhile, northbound I-395 is jammed from Glebe Road to the 14th Street Bridge.
In addition to heavy traffic, we’ve also spotted packs of Rolling Thunder motorcyclists heading into town for the annual Memorial Day weekend gathering.
Bayou Bakery in Courthouse (1515 N. Courthouse Road) will be holding a crawfish boil this weekend to help celebrate Memorial Day Louisiana-style.
Owner and chef David Guas will use a traditional recipe of lemons, cayenne pepper, paprika, bay leaves, garlic and salt to spice up the crawfish, which will be sold for $15 per pound with an accompaniment of potatoes and corn on the cob. Seven different types of Abita beer will also be offered.
In addition to the crawfish and beer, Bayou will be selling New Orleans-style sno-balls — thinly shaved ice topped with flavored syrups and a dollop of condensed milk.
To help welcome Rolling Thunder to town, the restaurant will be offering 10 percent off (excluding alcohol) to all vets and riders.
The boil will be held on Saturday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
It’s hard to criticize a group that travels long distances to gather in support of our troops. It’s even harder when that same patriotic group is helping the local economy by staying at local hotels and dining at the local Chili’s.
But ask just about any Arlington resident who lives within earshot of Route 1, I-395 or I-66 what they think of Rolling Thunder, and they’ll probably have some uncharitable things to say about the “Thunder” part of the Memorial Day weekend tradition.
In fact, the gadfly blogger over at Arlington Yupette may have hit a nerve with this post about how the noise seems to be getting worse every year.
“These guys kept my family awake the past 3 nights,” wrote one commenter.
“It’s a yearly contest to see who can ride the loudest motorcycle with the most obese woman on the back,” said another member of the complaint chorus.
Not everyone seems to agree with the criticism, however. Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey, who previously welcomed the Rolling Thunder crowd to town on his editor’s blog, mused that “it must be the complainer’s equivalent of a slow news week.”
Biden Leads Memorial Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery — Vice President Joe Biden laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and gave the keynote speech at the Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater on Monday. “Collectively, the generation of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have served and sacrificed for us are the heart and soul, and I would say, spine, of this nation,” Biden said. The Vice President also visited the cemetery’s section 60, which is the final resting place for troops who have fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Guardsmen Complete 550 Mile Run to Arlington — Two National Guardsmen have completed a three week, 550 mile “resiliency run” from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery. Col. Jack Mosher and Maj. Herbert Brock collectively ran a marathon each day to encourage “the warrior spirit in everyone.” They also documented their experience on the web.
Local Author Finalist in Amazon.com Competition — Patricia McArdle, a retired diplomat and Arlington resident, is one of six finalists for Amazon.com’s Breakthrough Novel Award. More from the Sun Gazette.
Deadline for Absentee Voting — Today is the last day to mail an absentee ballot for the eighth congressional district primary. Republicans Matthew Berry and Patrick Murray are facing off for the right to challenge Democrat Jim Moran in the fall.
Official White House Photo by David Lienemann.