Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4 p.m.) President Biden visited Arlington National Cemetery this afternoon.

A week after the First Lady visited a nonprofit in Clarendon that supports military families, Biden is visiting Section 60 of the nation’s most hallowed ground, where servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.

The visit immediately followed a speech at the White House in which Biden said all remaining U.S. forces will be withdrawing from Afghanistan, starting Saturday, May 1. The withdraw is expected to be complete by Sept. 11.

Some roads near the cemetery, including the Memorial Bridge, were temporarily closed due to the presidential motorcade. The president arrived at the cemetery around 3 p.m. and departed about 20 minutes later.

During the brief visit, Biden walked past a row of headstones carrying an unopened umbrella, the grass wet amid a light rain. He saluted a wreath and said of the many headstones, “it’s hard to believe, isn’t it?”

He expressed amazement at the sacrifice of those “prepared to give their lives for their country,” generation after generation, and said in response to a reporter’s question that it was not a hard decision to end America’s longest war.

“For me it was absolutely clear,” the president said.

File photo

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For the second year in a row, the pandemic is preventing the annual Easter sunrise service at Arlington National Cemetery from being an in-person event.

This year’s service, hosted by Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, will be live-streamed on Facebook starting at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, Apr. 4.

The event will be a Protestant service celebrated by Chaplain (Col.) Michael T. Shellman, Command Chaplain for the Joint Force Headquarters and Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Andrew R. Harewood, Deputy Chief of Chaplains for the Army Reserve.

“The Easter Sunrise Service supports military families and service members by providing spiritual enrichment and supports the joint base command’s mission to provide for the free exercise of religion in the military,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Scott Kennaugh, Deputy Chaplain at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, in a statement.

To comply with COVID-19 guidelines and keep the number of people at the service as low as possible, a brass quartet and four vocalists from the U.S. Army Band will be on-site along with a sign language interpreter.

In case of inclement weather, the service will be live-streamed from the joint base’s Memorial Chapel, also in Arlington. 

A Facebook account is not required to view the event.

Photo by Tim1965

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Morning Notes

Two Library Branches Are Back Open — “County officials on March 9 reopened the Shirlington and Westover branch libraries, albeit with curtailed hours and limiting the public to no more than 15 minutes inside at any one time. Where the reopening plan goes from here is anyone’s guess. ‘All other branches remain closed at this time, and a reopening date for the remaining branches has not yet been determined,’ library officials said.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Vultures Make National News — “When [Harvard University] closed because of Covid-19 in midsemester last spring, I relocated to my wife’s home in Arlington, Va… What I had not anticipated was that shortly after my arrival, my wife and I would be joined by a pair of black vultures, who thought the attic of her garage would be the ideal place to raise a family. And that’s just what they’ve done.” [Wall Street Journal]

Public Meeting on HQ2 Phase 2 Planned — “Arlington County is looking for public input on the next phase of new construction for Amazon’s second headquarters — including plans for a futuristic, spiral-shaped building called ‘The Helix.’ A virtual ‘Community Kick-off Meeting’ is now planned for March 25 at 6:30 p.m. It will be the start of a lengthy public review process that will take several months to complete.” [WJLA]

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Reopens — “Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) will reopen the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier plaza to the visiting public [on] March 9, 2021. ANC is taking this action as part of a gradual reopening under improved COVID-19 conditions. Reopening the Tomb plaza to the public, while continuing to maintain current health protection conditions, is an important element of the yearlong centennial commemoration for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which culminates on Veterans Day 2021.” [Arlington National Cemetery]

Residents Hold Nightly Pandemic Happy Hour — “They’re bundled up and socially distanced in front of a roaring fire, with drinks in hand. In this Arlington neighborhood, residents have met for a happy hour called Six Feet at 6:30 every night for nearly a year. ‘It’s been my therapy,’ Mary Stump said.” [NBC 4]

Big Metro Cuts Averted By Stimulus Bill — “Metro expects to avert service cuts and layoffs that had been proposed in its FY22 budget thanks to new federal relief approved by Congress today. ‘Congress has once again stepped up to address the needs of Metro and the regional transit systems that will be critical to our region’s economic recovery,’ said Metro Board of Directors Chair Paul C. Smedberg. ‘While it will take more time to work out all the details, including Metro’s exact share of this funding, the $1.4 billion provided by the American Recovery Plan for our region’s transit agencies will allow us to avert the painful service reductions and layoffs that were on the table.'” [WMATA]

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(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) A new exhibit at Arlington National Cemetery honors the contributions of servicewomen of color to the United States.

The exhibit, called “The Color of Freedom: Honoring the Diversity of America’s Servicewomen,” opened over the weekend at the Military Women’s Memorial, located at the end of Memorial Avenue near the cemetery’s main entrance.

Arlington resident Rita Paul, who joined the military as a single mother and spent nine years in the U.S. Army, welcomed the news of the exhibit.

“Right now, it is hard to see what is going on in our country surrounding people of color, specifically women,” Paul said. “As a servicewoman, there has always been a sense of honor and pride, and I think now, more than ever, if we can highlight the importance of positive representation, it will help make a difference.”

After retiring from the military, she started working for Comcast, which is sponsoring the exhibit.

“Women veterans of color have and will continue to play an integral role in our nation’s military and service institutions,” said Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Carol Eggert, Senior Vice President of Military & Veteran Affairs at Comcast NBCUniversal, in a statement. “We’re proud to elevate their voices and stories of service to our nation’s defense.”

Visitors to The Color of Freedom will also have access to an educational program for students, a speaker forum and a digital exhibit.

“This exhibit is a perfect example of the extraordinary, yet untold story of the thousands of women of color who for decades upon decades have made remarkable contributions to our military and to America,” said Phyllis Wilson, President at the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation.

The Military Women’s Memorial recently announced the National Registration campaign to preserve the stories of the three million women who have served in the military.

Those planning a visit can reserve timed tickets for free.

Photo via Military Women’s Memorial/Facebook

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Metro’s entire Blue Line is being shut down for more than three months starting Saturday.

The closing of the Blue Line, which runs through parts of Arlington, is due to platform reconstruction work being performed at the Arlington Cemetery station. Additionally, work is being done at the Addison Road station in Maryland. The project was announced last year.

Both the station and the Blue Line are planning to reopen on May 23.

A shuttle bus will run between the Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery, and Pentagon stations during the project. The shuttles will run every 12 minutes Monday through Friday and every 15 minutes on the weekends. They will not stop at Arlington Cemetery after 7 p.m.

The construction work is part of a massive effort to reconstruct, modernize, and update station platforms throughout the system.

The work being done at the Arlington Cemetery station will include adding slip-resistant tiles, brighter LED canopy lighting, and lighted handrails on stairs. There will also be new platform shelters equipped with charging ports, improved platform speakers and PA system, better information screens, and renovated bathrooms.

This is the same type of work that closed down parts of the Orange Line and the entire Silver Line over the summer.

Normally, this type of work and necessary shutdown happens during the summer time when Metro ridership is historically lower. But with ridership down as much as 90% due to the pandemic, the Blue Line shut down is being initiated earlier in the year.

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Brian Sicknick arrived at his final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday, escorted there by scores of local first responders, including many from Arlington.

The fallen U.S. Capitol Police officer, who was killed during the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot, was laid to rest at the cemetery after lying in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.

Arlington County Police Department motor officers were part of the procession from the Capitol to the cemetery. Arlington County firefighters and Virginia State Police troopers helped to salute Sicknick’s remains as the hearse arrived at the cemetery.

Photos from the procession route, as posted on social media, are below.

Photo (top) via ACPD

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Morning Notes

Metro on Modified Snow Plan — “On Monday, February 1, Metrobus will operate on a moderate snow plan. Service on some routes will be suspended and detours will be in effect on selected routes to avoid areas prone to hazardous conditions such as hilly terrain and narrow streets. Metrorail service is expected to operate on a regular weekday schedule.” [WMATA]

Arlington Vaccination Stats Might Be Higher — “Over 140,000 Northern Virginia residents have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Virginia Department of Health data, but that does not include federal employees and current and retired military service members who may have received vaccines through the federal government.” [InsideNova]

Fallen Capitol Officer to Be Buried at ANC — Brian Sicknick, the U.S. Capitol Police officer killed during the Jan. 6 riots, will be lie in honor at the Capitol before being buried at Arlington National Cemetery. “Officer Brian Sicknick’s service and sacrifice will never be forgotten. These honors, accorded to few, are richly deserved by one who gave his life in defense of American democracy,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said in a statement. [Press Release]

ACPD: Trespasser Kicked Officer — “Arriving officers observed the suspect outside the business, however, he began to flee on a bicycle. As the officers attempted to make contact with the suspect, he got off the bicycle and approached the officer’s cruiser. When the officer exited their cruiser, the suspect began to walk away and ignored lawful commands. The suspect was detained without further incident, however, while sitting on the curb, he became irate and kicked an officer.” [ACPD]

Recounting Presidential Visits to Arlington — “Which of our 46 presidents spent time in Arlington, before or during their tenures? Most, if not all, would have passed through during cross-Potomac travels, and in modern times most visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Pentagon.” [Falls Church News-Press]

COVID Cases Among DCA Construction Crew — “The two-part, $650 million modernization of Reagan National Airport is still expected to be completed this year… While the health crisis hasn’t slowed construction, it has apparently affected the workers building the project. About 63 Project Journey workers have tested positive for Covid-19 since March, and most of those cases, 26, were discovered in December, according to MWAA.” [Washington Business Journal]

It’s February — Today is Feb. 1, the first day of February. Tomorrow is, of course, Groundhog Day.

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Despite everything that transpired leading up to it, Inauguration Day saw a peaceful transfer of power as now-former President Donald Trump departed the White House and President Joe Biden was sworn in.

Overlooking it all from across the Potomac, Arlington played a bit part in pomp and circumstance.

Those with a vista across the river could catch a clear view this morning of President Trump departing the South Lawn of the White House on Marine One.

The inauguration ceremony that followed was devoid of members of the general public, as security and virus concerns closed the National Mall. Some who wanted to experience history unfold in person headed instead to the Marine Corps War Memorial, near Rosslyn.

A sizable security presence could be seen near the Rosslyn Metro station as the inauguration ceremony concluded and as President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris — joined by former residents Clinton, Bush, Obama — headed via motorcade to Arlington National Cemetery.

Biden and Harris paid their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before heading back into D.C., via the Memorial Bridge, for their arrival at the White House.

Jay Westcott contributed to this report. Photos (as marked) by Jay Westcott, Joanna Hitt Kim and Kevin Wolf.

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Morning Notes

BBC Airs Segment on AFAC — The Arlington Food Assistance Center, which is seeing record food need and lines throughout the day, was profiled in a segment that aired on BBC World News this week. [Twitter]

Fares to Return on ART Buses — “ART buses will resume front door boarding and fare collection starting on Sunday, January 3, 2021. Riders will begin boarding buses through the front door and will pay their fare at the fare box using a SmarTrip card or exact change. The regular ART bus fare for a one-way trip is $2.00.” [Arlington Transit]

Teens Launch Hot Cocoa Company — “In July, Wakefield High School rising seniors Farah Bahr and Sithiya Reshmee (who goes by the nickname ‘Resh’) founded F&R Sweets, a line that includes chocolate-dipped strawberries, churro cheesecake (made with croissant dough, cream cheese filling and cinnamon sugar) and hot chocolate bombs… the bombs ($3-$10 each) grabbed my attention. They are bonbon-like orbs filled with mini marshmallows, Swiss Miss cocoa mix (regular, caramel or peppermint) and sometimes other add-ins.” [Arlington Magazine]

AWLA Treats Dog With Skin Condition — “On Sunday, we were very surprised when a brown-eyed dog with a severe skin infection and hair loss came through our doors. He desperately needs us, and together we can start him on the path to healing. Rufus was found all alone on the side of the road and was brought to AWLA for help.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Patch]

Fort Myer Bowling Alley Back Open — “The [Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall] Bowling Center had a small grease fire last week that temporarily shut down operations. Today, the fire department and health inspections were completed and they were given approval to re-open at 2 p.m.” [Twitter]

Arlington is Soldier’s Resting Place, At Last — “An Army sergeant from Panama, Oklahoma who was killed during the Korean War has been identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency,” from the 55 boxes containing remains of American service members turned over by North Korea in 2018. “Rodgers will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, at a later date that has yet to be determined.” [Times Record]

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Morning Notes

Schools Closed, Federal Gov’t on Delay — Due to anticipated icy conditions this morning, Arlington Public Schools has closed schools, though distance learning is still on. Federal government offices have a 10 a.m. delayed opening. [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlington Xmas Decorations Go Viral — Two Arlington homes, next door to one another, have very different approaches to holiday decorating, as seen in a tweet that went viral. [Twitter]

Might Mayor Pete Live in Arlington? — “Pete and Chasten have an affinity for airports — Pete proposed to Chasten at O’Hare in Chicago and Chasten proposed to Pete at an airport in Berlin — so why not live walking distance from DCA? Besides having a great beer bar and Synetic Theater, the area also known as Crystal City is a major transportation hub, which could work in Pete’s favor as he starts his new role.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]

Bill Would Strip Lee’s Name from Arlington House — Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s name is likely to soon be removed from Lee Highway in Arlington, and potentially from his former home in Arlington National Cemetery as well. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has introduced legislation that would rename what’s currently known as “Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial” as just “Arlington House.” Arlington County is in the process of removing an illustration of the house, which critics say is a symbol of slavery, from its logo and seal. [Press Release, Twitter]

Wreaths on the Way — The wreaths for this weekend’s Wreaths Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery are currently making their way to Arlington from Maine via convoy. [Twitter, Facebook]

Funeral for Vietnam War Hero — “Despite the winter elements that hit the [D.C. area] Wednesday morning, Medal of Honor recipient Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins was given modified military funeral honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Adkins died from COVID-19 earlier this year in April at the age of 86.” [WJLA]

Local Nonprofit Gets Grant — “The Arlington-based nonprofit organization, Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT) announced their latest financial contribution from the Arlington Women’s Civic Alliance (AWCA) to support LLT’s leadership training and college readiness programs. ” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

ANC and Addison Alternatives Announced — “Metro will offer free shuttle bus service and other travel alternatives during the spring closure of Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery stations on the Blue and Silver lines, the transit agency announced today. Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery will be closed from Saturday, Feb. 13 through Sunday, May 23, 2021, to allow for construction.” [WMATA]

Business Buys Ballroom Building, Before Bar by Beer Boss Brings Big Bucks — “Monument Realty has acquired the former Clarendon Ballroom as the owners of popular beer garden The Lot plan to open a temporary event venue inside the building on Arlington County’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. MR 3185 Wilson Retail LLC, an affiliate of the District-based commercial real estate developer, acquired the building at 3185 Wilson Blvd. Dec. 11 for about $6.7 million, according to Arlington County land records.” [Washington Business Journal]

COVID Concerns Cause County Crew Changes — “You can now add snow removal to the long list of things that have had to change because of COVID-19. ‘This year, what makes it different than many other years, is the threat of COVID and really the concern of just keeping the employees safe, keeping them distanced enough to where they can do their work but also go home safely,’ said Jeremy Hassan, the chief operating engineer for Arlington County’s Water, Sewer, and Streets Bureau.” [Fox 5]

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