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
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.
(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, the Air Force sexual assault prevention chief who’s accused of sexual battery in Crystal City, will face trial in July.
With his attorney by his side, a stone-faced Krusinski was arraigned in Arlington General District Court this afternoon. Defense attorney Sheryl Shane argued for a later trial date, citing the need to track down and talk to witnesses, but the judge denied the request, instead setting a trial date of Thursday, July 18.
When Krusinski exited the courthouse after today’s hearing, he was mobbed by reporters and photographers from local and national news outlets. Despite a barrage of questions from microphone-toting TV reporters, he said nothing as he got into the back seat of a dark-colored BMW, which quickly drove off.
Krusinski was removed from his post as head of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program on Monday after ARLnow.com first reported that he had been arrested, accused of drunkenly grabbing the breasts and buttocks of a woman he didn’t know in a Crystal City parking lot.
The case became national headline news, leading to statements from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and President Obama, and contributing to a renewed debate about how to deal with the widespread problem of sexual assault in the military.
The charge of sexual battery that Krusinski faces carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine. Prosecutor Cari Steele, an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, declined to say whether she will seek the maximum sentence in the case.
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
The Twilight Tattoo performance at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall tonight will be moved indoors and expanded due to rain and large expected crowds
There will now be two performances — one at 6:00 p.m., and one at 7:30 p.m. — and those performances will take place inside Conmy Hall. The latter will be held in honor of Arlington Neighborhood Day.
Twilight Tattoo is described as “an hour-long military pageant featuring soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and the U.S. Army Band ‘Pershing’s Own.’”
From JBMHH Community Relations Officer Leah Rubalcaba:
Please be advised of a change in tonight’s (May 8) performance of the Military District of Washington’s Twilight Tattoo at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, being hosted in honor of Arlington Neighborhood Day. It will be moved indoors to Conmy Hall due to [rain] and the fact the Summerall Field grounds are saturated. Also, due to the large number of groups expected at tonight’s performance, the Military District of Washington will have two performances of the Twilight Tattoo — one at 6:00 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m. The Twilight Tattoo performance being held in honor of Arlington Neighborhood Day will be the 7:30 p.m. performance. The show is one hour in length — so it will end at 8:30 p.m. We hope to see many of our Arlington Neighbors at tonight’s 7:30 p.m. show. Please plan to arrive at Conmy Hall shortly after 7:00 p.m.
Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski is accused of fondling a woman in a Crystal City parking lot early Sunday morning.
“A drunken male subject approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks,” according to a Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The victim fought the suspect off as he attempted to touch her again and alerted police.”
“Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with sexual battery,” police said. “He was held on a $5,000 unsecured bond.”
An Air Force spokeswoman confirmed Krusinski’s rank, job title and the fact that he works at the Pentagon to ARLnow.com, but had no further comment.
The victim did not know Krusinski, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Police were unable to say how Krusinski sustained cuts on his face that appeared in his booking photo. He did not require medical treatment.
Update at 5:05 p.m. — Lt. Col. Krusinski has been removed from his position pending an investigation, NBC News reports.
Ft. Myer Daycare Investigation Widens — What started as allegations of assault against two workers at a daycare center on Ft. Myer has widened into a worldwide probe of military child care hiring practices. At least 31 daycare staffers at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall have been suspended after investigators found “disqualifying factors in their records, including history of drug use and past allegations of assault.” One official called it “a severe lapse in the background checks system.” [Washington Post]
DoD Relaxes Security Standards for Some Buildings — A loosening of the Department of Defense’s security standards for commercial office buildings may make it easier for the DoD to lease office space in Arlington (and elsewhere). Earlier this month, the Pentagon reversed a policy put in place in response to 9/11 that required that leased office space meet stringent anti-terrorism security standards, even for administrative offices within the DoD. [Washington Business Journal]
Marymount Seeking to Redevelop Ballston Property — Marymount University is pushing ahead with a plan to redevelop its 50-year-old “Blue Goose” building at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive in Ballston. The university has proposed replacing the aging building with an office building and an apartment building. [Sun Gazette]
Science Focus Teacher Wins Recognition — “Arlington Science Focus School Principal Mary Begley was named Administrator of the Year by the Greater Washington Reading Council at its annual conference in Fairfax” on Wednesday, says a school press release. [Arlington Public Schools]
Flickr pool photo by Damiec
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
Author Event to Discuss Soldiers –Arlington Public Library is holding an author event next week with George Mason University Professor Christopher Hamner. Hamner, author of “Enduring Battle,” will discuss the evolution of the American soldier from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to World War II. The talk is scheduled on Aug. 30 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street). [Arlington Public Library]
Street Sweeping Underway — Arlington County has begun its annual street sweeping program. The sweeping is being grouped into 11 different “street sweeping zones.” Parked cars must be moved from the streets in each zone on the days designated for street sweeping. About 814 “lane miles” will be swept by the time the program ends on Oct. 29. [Arlington County]
O’Connell to Open New Field — Work on Bishop O’Connell High School’s new stadium and synthetic athletic field is complete. The first major event at the stadium will be a varsity football game at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31. [Sun Gazette]
Resident’s Fact-Checking Org Profiled — PolitiFact, a journalistic organization dedicated to fact checking politicians and political ads, is turning five years old. The organization, which is currently busy assigning “Truth-O-Meter” rankings to statements from the U.S. presidential race, is headed by Bill Adair, an Arlington resident. [Nieman Journalism Lab]
Photo courtesy Captain Pup McPuppo
The 9/11 Heroes Run Shirlington, scheduled for 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, will feature a 5K race and a 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk. The event is one of nearly three dozen 9/11 Heroes races around the country.
Registration for individuals is $35, while registration for a family of four is $80. Half of the proceeds will benefit the Travis Mills Fund. Sgt. Mills was the fourth quadruple amputee from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive his injuries. A father and husband, Mills has been living at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he has been learning to walk on a new set of prosthetic legs.
Mills, a Michigan native, appeared on TV last month and discussed his road to recovery and his optimistic outlook on life. The Mills Fund helps his family pay travel and living expenses that aren’t covered by insurance or the military. The race aims to raise a total of $5,000.
A post-race party will be held at The Bungalow Sports Grill in Shirlington (2766 South Arlington Mill Drive).
Another, unrelated 9-11 memorial race, the Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9-11 Memorial 5K in Crystal City, is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 8.
Photo via Facebook
County Fair Moves on From Embezzlement Case — All seems to be going well with the Arlington County Fair (photos, above) this year, despite the arrest and subsequent guilty plea of the fair’s now-former event manager on embezzlement charges several months ago. [Falls Church News-Press]
Rumsfeld to Attend Murray Fundraiser — Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is slated to be the special guest at a private fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Patrick Murray next month. Murray is a retired U.S. Army colonel. [Patrick Murray for Congress]
Bike Trip Planner Released — Those wanting to plan bike trips around Arlington and D.C. can now do so via a new online bike routing tool. BikeArlington contributed knowledge of local bike routes to the free tool, which was developed by the nonprofit group OpenPlans. [Mobility Lab]
Krupicka Wins Dem Caucus — Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka has won the Democratic caucus for the 45th District House of Delegrates seat, which represents some parts of South Arlington. Krupicka defeated opponent Karen Gautney by a caucus vote of 1,540 to 891. He will now face Republican Tim McGhee in the Nov. 6 general election. [Patch]
County Gets New Coach Bus for Seniors — The Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation has invested in a new 41-seat coach-style bus. The bus will be used for the department’s travel programs for adults 55 and over. [Sun Gazette]
History of the Twilight Tattoo — There are just 4 Twilight Tattoo performances left this summer at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. An article about the history of the military tradition notes that its origins date back more than 300 years. The next Twilight Tattoo will take place Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. [U.S. Army]
Photo via @Rosy1280
Military training exercises will be taking place at the National Guard center throughout the day. As part of the drill, residents — especially those in the Barcroft and Alcova Heights neighborhoods – may notice a helicopter landing and taking off in the field at Arlington Hall West Park around 11:00 a.m. and again at 3:25 p.m. Park visitors are advised to avoid the area around these times.
Police officers and firefighters will be in the area to provide assistance as necessary. There are no traffic disruptions or noises expected during the training exercise, other than the helicopter, we’re told.
Artomatic Starts Tonight — Artomatic, described as “the D.C. area’s biggest unjuried arts extravaganza,” will kick off in Crystal City tonight. The five-week event is being held in a former Department of Defense office building at 1851 S. Bell Street, and will feature 10 floors of work by local artists. Artomatic was last held in the District in 2009. [Express]
Affordable Housing Push — A coalition of Arlington affordable housing advocates are preparing a public relations push to make the case for more affordable housing in Arlington. Supporters will be attending community events over the next six month to educate residents about the loss of affordable housing in the county. Currently, affordable housing initiatives are about 5 percent of Arlington County’s $1 billion budget. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Company Makes Bomb-Proof Underwear — An Arlington company called Secure Planet is manufacturing tens of thousands of pairs of “shrapnel shorts,” which are designed to protect the pelvic region of military service members in the event of a bomb blast. [WJLA]
The charity Segs4Vets arranged to give the vehicles to the wounded warriors, many of whom are amputees. Some of the Segways are specially outfitted to accommodate individual disabilities, such as having a built-in seat for when the user becomes too tired to stand.
Jerry Kerr started the organization in September 2005. He had broken his neck in 1998 and was paralyzed from the neck down. Although he has some movement now, he was told he would never be able to walk again. That prompted him to devote time to investigating what technologies were available to allow him to become more mobile.
“When I became permanently disabled, when I realized that my world had changed forever, I started to learn about what we had, how I was going to get around, how I could interact in society again,” said Kerr.
Kerr has particular interest in technology that aids people, but doesn’t draw attention to their disabilities. When the Segway came out, he found it fit the bill.
Once Kerr discovered how much his life had improved through the use of a Segway, he got the idea to give one to an injured person returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, and the program has blossomed since then.
The Arlington County Police Department helps out Segs4Vets by providing training to the recipients, many of them coming from Walter Reed Medical Center. This allows the users to learn about the vehicles and get on them right away instead of having to wait for the once-a-year training sessions held in Washington D.C., San Antonio and San Diego.
“It originally started because they needed a place to store the Segways, and ACPD was interested in storing some of them,” said ACPD Retired Captain David Herbstreit. “Out of that, we saw an opportunity to go ahead and step into it a little deeper.”
Herbstreit is one of the founding members of the partnership between ACPD and Segs4Vets. Now, there are nearly two dozen participants in the ACPD. Lt. Mark Belanger is one of them. He’s been assisting for about nine months and has trained 18 Segway recipients, along with their spouses and other family members.
“It’s important that there’s a local group they can turn to,” said Belanger. “It’s nice to get someplace close, they don’t have to wait a year.”
Retired Staff Sgt. Robert Canine is one of the many who traveled from across the country to be at the ceremony. He received his Segway in the fall of 2010, and now volunteers with Segs4Vets.
Canine lost both legs below the knee from an injury he sustained in May 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. He explained that an armor-penetrating explosive device hit the vehicle he was in, and he feels lucky to be alive.
Canine went through physical therapy at Walter Reed Medical Center for a year and half. He couldn’t walk well on his new prosthetics, but received his Segway within months of returning home. Canine says it’s been a huge boost to his mobility and allowed him to get around outside.
“I could keep up with my son on his bike, I could walk the dog,” said Canine. “It just felt good to be able to do something.”