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NEW: Air Force Memorial to close for Fourth of July fireworks

Fourth of July fireworks, as seen from the Air Force Memorial (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

One of the main fireworks viewing spots in Arlington will be closed on the Fourth of July this year.

The Air Force Memorial will be closed on July 4, then will reopen on July 5, due to “safety and security” concerns caused by the ongoing Arlington National Cemetery expansion project.

“While we recognize it has become an annual tradition for many visitors and local community members to view the fireworks and commemorate this patriotic day from the Air Force Memorial, this is an active construction site, which poses a significant safety and security risk,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery Executive Director.

Construction along S. Joyce Street and Columbia Pike near the U.S. Air Force Memorial in April (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Those who usually go to the memorial may consider other Arlington fireworks viewing spots like Long Bridge Park, Rosslyn’s Gateway Park, the Marine Corps War Memorial or Gravelly Point.

The cemetery expansion project will add 38 acres of hallowed ground near the memorial, extending the life of the cemetery with 80,000 additional “burial opportunities.” The project will realign part of Columbia Pike, which is expected to be closed and rerouted early next year.

The full press release about the memorial closure is below.

Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), in collaboration with the Air Force District of Washington (AFDW), announced today they will close public access to the Southern Expansion portion of Arlington National Cemetery, which includes access to the Air Force Memorial, on July 4. The memorial will reopen to the public on July 5.

“While we recognize it has become an annual tradition for many visitors and local community members to view the fireworks and commemorate this patriotic day from the Air Force Memorial, this is an active construction site, which poses a significant safety and security risk. Our priority is to keep our visitors safe and allow them the time needed to make alternative plans this holiday,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery Executive Director.

In past years, the grassy slopes around the land acquired by the cemetery from Arlington County and the Air Force Memorial have been a public gathering area for a few thousand people to view the 4th of July fireworks displays here in the National Capital Region.

“For years, the Air Force Memorial has offered an incredible backdrop to celebrate our Nation’s independence,” said Maj. Gen. Joel Jackson, Air Force District of Washington commander. “However, ongoing construction near the site in support of the Arlington National Cemetery’s Southern Expansion Project prevents us from safely hosting people during this year’s celebration.”

ANC and AFDW have been in close coordination with multiple agencies to include Arlington County Police, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH) Department of Emergency Services and the Pentagon Force Protection Agency to conduct a thorough safety and security assessment before making the decision to close this area to the public.

ANC’s Southern Expansion Project is the cemetery’s largest expansion to date and will add 38 acres and more than 80,000 burial opportunities. This project is designed to expand the life of the cemetery and allow the nation to honor our future generations for their sacrifices.

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