Constantin remembers growing up in Ukraine and his mother taking him to the streets to protest against the Soviet Union’s occupation of his homeland.
Those memories were at the forefront while Constantin, now an Arlington resident who works in blockchain technology, embarked on a mission.
Over the course of Monday afternoon, he hung Ukrainian and American flags side-by-side on a dozen I-66 overpasses, running east from the Falls Church area to Rosslyn.
“[I’m doing this] to express gratitude towards everything that the United States has done for Ukraine so far,” Constantin, who did not want his last name used out of safety concerns, tells ARLnow. “It’s a unifying message that represents both what America and Ukraine stand for, which is democracy and freedom.”
This was epic. As soon as I jumped on the railing with a #Ukrainian flag, every single time, people below would start honking. On some overpasses people stopped and complimented, and sent courage to #Ukraine and it’s fight for freedom from #Russia. pic.twitter.com/dBMKG6lUZa
— iFirebrand.eth 🇺🇦🇺🇸 (@iFirebrand) March 1, 2022
Since Russia invaded Ukraine last week, there has been an outpouring of support for the country internationally, across the U.S. and here in Arlington. Local officials expressed support for Ukraine immediately after the invasion and last night the County Board condemned Russia’s “unprovoked attack” on Arlington’s Ukrainian sister city, Ivano-Frankivsk.
Constantin immigrated to America in 1993 and has lived in North Arlington for about two decades, after first moving here after grad school. He’s a U.S. citizen, but has never forgotten his Ukrainian roots. Over the years, Constantin says he has continued to fundraise, support, and bring awareness to Ukraine’s fight for sovereignty. That includes pressing Congress in 2014 to pass the Ukraine Freedom Support Act.
Yesterday, as soon as he started hanging the flags on the overpasses, he saw an outpouring of support for the Ukrainian cause.
“As soon as I put the Ukraine flags up, people started honking,” Constantin says. “To me, as a Ukrainian American, it is such a positive and inspiring note of support.”
— Efgan Nifti (@enifti) March 1, 2022
On the overpasses where there was foot traffic, people shared their words of support and some stopped to help him put up the flags.
One woman with a child in the backseat of her car even pulled up beside him to give Constantin $100 cash to “do the right thing.” He says he’ll be donating the money to Ukrainian recovery efforts.
The most epic moment was when a women with a kid in a car seat pulled over and said: “I’ve been driving on I66 and saw this. I got off and it took me 30 mins to find you. Here is $100 for #Ukraine“. I tried to decline twice but she insisted. I will donate this. pic.twitter.com/fOrUSozeKa
— iFirebrand.eth 🇺🇦🇺🇸 (@iFirebrand) March 1, 2022
As of this morning (Tuesday), most of the flags remained. The one on the Glebe Road overpass seemed to be gone, either blown away by the wind or taken down.
“There is a pro-Putin set of Russians in D.C. and [the] U.S., in general,” Constantin notes. Public works employees are also tasked with removing items displayed on overpasses, though it’s often a low priority.
Constantin plans to put more flags up, saying Beltway overpasses are next. He also says he’s working with a network of volunteers to send thousands of helmets to Ukraine for civilians and the military.
Constantin still has family and friends in the country that he speaks to and worries about. They are living in constant fear, he says, hearing explosions and seeing fireballs in the streets.
Though he agrees with the measures that the U.S. has taken so far against Russia, and is hopeful that this is the last time Russia will fight a war with Ukraine, he’s also realistic.
“I’m proud people are paying attention now, but fearful that eventually will become desensitized to the horror… and move on. And Russia will keep going,” Constantin says. “This is why the flags could be a reminder to continue the support.”
— iFirebrand.eth 🇺🇦🇺🇸 (@iFirebrand) March 1, 2022
A man walked up to an American flag outside of a home in the Arlington Heights neighborhood early Friday morning and lit it on fire.
Arlington County police and fire investigators are now trying to find the suspect, a younger man who was wearing a hooded windbreaker and a backpack at the time. The motive for the crime is unclear.
The incident happened around 3 a.m., in the residential neighborhood several blocks away from Thomas Jefferson Middle School. It’s being investigated as arson.
“The unknown suspect approached an American flag on the victim’s porch and set it on fire,” said an ACPD crime report. “A witness observed the flag on fire and extinguished it. The suspect is described as a White male, 18 – 30 years old, 5’4″ – 5’11” tall and wearing a dark hooded windbreaker, jeans, white sneakers and carrying a backpack. A joint investigation with the Fire Marshal’s Office is ongoing.”
The resident of the home, who did not wish to be named, recounted what happened to ARLnow.
“We awoke to a neighbor banging on our front door and a burning flag, which had spread to the bush in our front yard,” he wrote. “Our neighbor put out the fire with a hose. We then saw the video of the person lighting the flag on fire.”
The video was shared with neighbors on an email listserv.
“No idea,” the resident said, when asked why someone would do this, adding that nothing like this has ever happened before in the area.
Hat tip to Smiley456
‘Flags In’ at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — “At 2:00pm EST, @USArmyOldGuard will enter @ArlingtonNatl and continue our tradition of placing an American flag at every gravesite throughout our Nation’s most hallowed grounds. Stay tuned for updates as we honor those that have served and sacrificed for our freedom.” [Twitter]
Former Sen. John Warner Dies — “John W. Warner, the five-term U.S. senator from Virginia who helped plan the nation’s 1976 bicentennial celebrations, played a central role in military affairs and gained respect on both sides of the political aisle for his diligence, consensus-building and independence, died May 24 at his home in Alexandria, Va. He was 94.” [Washington Post, Gov. Ralph Northam]
StarKist Moving Somewhere in N. Va. — “StarKist Co. plans to close its Pittsburgh headquarters office and relocate to Northern Virginia, the company said this week. Known for its cartoon mascot Charlie the Tuna, StarKist said in a statement that the headquarters in Pittsburgh will close at the end of March 2022… The company did not disclose where in Northern Virginia its new headquarters will be.” [Patch]
Memorial Day Closures — Updated at 8:55 a.m. — “Arlington County Government offices and services are operating on modified schedules for Memorial Day, May 31.” [Arlington County]
Woman Arrested for Burning Flag Near W-L High — “A woman was arrested for burning an American flag on an overpass over I-66 in Arlington, police say. Kayla Caniff, 22, was charged with property destruction after police say she burned a flag attached to a chain link fence on the N. Stafford Street overpass, north of the Ballston area, at about 11:55 p.m. Thursday.” [NBC Washington]
County Website Goes Down — The Arlington County website was down for an extended period of time over Labor Day weekend. [Twitter]
Lucky Dog Takes in Pups from Hurricane’s Path — “While Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas — thousands of miles away in Arlington, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue plotted a rescue mission… The Carolinas are projected to be in the storm’s path and Lucky Dog Animal Rescue is partnered with a shelter in South Carolina. So the organization’s volunteers met an animal control officer part of the way there to take 19 of the shelter’s dogs.” [WJLA]
APS to Review Westover Tree Plan — “Facing community unrest in Westover, Arlington Public Schools plans to take another look at the potential of saving more trees during construction of a new elementary school on North McKinley Road near Washington Boulevard. Following an Aug. 29 meeting with residents, the school system has directed that ‘before the trees are removed, we have the contractor stake out the site and renumber the trees.'” [InsideNova]
Energy Plan Concerns: Feds and Trees — Arlington County’s impending update to its Community Energy Plan, which sets a net zero carbon emissions goal, is an important step in fighting climate change, some advocates say, though additional action is still needed on the state and federal level. Others, despite supporting the goal, are concerned that achieving it may come at the cost of the area’s tree canopy. [Washington Post, Arlington County]
Arlington’s Many Advocacy Orgs — “My viewing [of the Netflix documentary ‘The Family’] got me thinking of the many newsmaking organizations — of all political stripes — that have long populated our suburb so close to the action of the nation’s capital. Wilson Blvd. and Crystal City alone are home to enough colorful groups to generate a slew of political and public policy contretemps.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Reminder: Be Careful on the Roads Today — It’s the first day of school, kids will be walking to school and there are new traffic patterns around some schools. Arlington County Police are conducting “a high-visibility traffic enforcement campaign in and around school zones and bus stops” today. [ARLnow, Arlington County]
Photo courtesy David Johnson
Ray’s the Steaks Closing — “Washington will soon lose a carnivorous institution. Ray’s the Steaks, an unfussy Arlington chophouse that’s operated in the neighborhood for 17 years, will close after service on Saturday, June 15, says chef/owner Michael Landrum.” [Washingtonian]
DOJ Announces APS Settlement — “Today the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced a settlement agreement with Arlington Public Schools that will bolster English language services to the district’s approximately 5,000 students who are not proficient in English.” [Dept. of Justice]
Flags Fly Half Mast for Va. Beach — Flags at Arlington County buildings are flying half mast in honor of the victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting. [Twitter]
Parking Is Point of Contention for Redevelopment — “Some surface parking at the Crystal House apartments is set to stick around, even as the Crystal City property gets redeveloped — and that’s worrying Arlington planners reviewing the project.” [Washington Business Journal]
‘Move Over’ Month in Arlington — “Move Over Awareness Month, recognized each June, is a statewide safety campaign designed to reduce the risk of injury or death to emergency personnel by raising motorist awareness of Virginia’s Move Over law.” [Arlington County]
New Priest for Arlington Cathedral — “Effective Thursday, June 27, 2019 and in accordance with the clergy appointments made by the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington. the Very Reverend Patrick L. Posey, V.F., will be leaving his current position as Pastor of Saint James Catholic Church in Falls Church, to become the new Rector of the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More in Arlington.”
Arlington officials are flying rainbow flags and local bars are hosting drag events to kick-off this month’s Pride celebrations.
During the month of June, residents will spot the multi-hued flags hung at county’s government offices in Courthouse, as well as outside the county’s Justice Center, Arlington Central Library, the Department of Human Services office near Penrose, and the Trades Center, among other places.
Rainbow flags will also be flying all month at the County Justice Center, Central Library, Trades Center, Walter Reed Community Center, Barcroft, Fairlington Community Center, Department of Human Services, and other @ArlingtonVALib branches! #PrideMonth
— ArlingtonVA (@ArlingtonVA) May 31, 2019
Although some of the biggest Pride events are happening this weekend in D.C. and Centreville, there are plenty of smaller Pride events in Arlington on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that started it all.
Arlington staple and Northern Virginia’s only gay bar Freddie’s Beach Bar is continuing to host nightly karaoke events, as well as free drag bingo nights every Wednesday and drag shows every Saturday this month, featuring a rotating cast of queens for a $5 cover.
Next Monday, June 10, the Columbia Pike Branch Library is hosting a Pride Paint Night.
Oz Restaurant & Bar in Clarendon will also host a Pride Karaoke night on June 13 from 8-11 p.m., featuring $7 cocktails and $5 wine and rail drinks.
At the end of the month, Barnes & Noble in Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd) is organizing a free reading event for children with three books featuring LGBT characters on Saturday, June 29 at 11 a.m.
Photo via EricaJoy/Flickr
Thousands of soldiers will participate in a time-honored tradition at Arlington National Cemetery tomorrow: the placement of flags at each headstone and columbarium for Memorial Day.
There are more than 400,000 interred at the cemetery, but soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment — The Old Guard — will place a flag in front of each in about four hours, rain or shine.
The monumental task is known as “Flag-In,” and is conducted every year prior to Memorial Day to honor the nation’s fallen military heroes. This year, it’s happening tomorrow (Thursday) starting at 1 p.m.
The event also includes a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“While the public is welcome to observe the Flags-In tradition, the public cannot participate in the flag placement,” the cemetery noted in a news release.
There were plenty of flags to be seen around Arlington this past week, in celebration of Independence Day. One household in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, near Columbia Pike, took their patriotism to another level.
The residents of a home on the 800 block of S. Ivy Street draped an enormous, 20’x30′ American flag across the side of their house.
“We hung it up on Sunday and we’ve had a lot of positive reactions from neighbors and people just driving by,” resident Chelsie Bain told ARLnow.com, via email. “Over the weekend we saw several people get out of their cars/walk by and take pictures, people would honk as they drove by and neighbors stopped by to thank us for showing our patriotism.”
Bain said the flag appears to be the biggest residential American flag in Arlington, at least as far as she is aware. She added that the flag is still up but it will probably be taken down later this week.
Photo by Jackie Friedman
In preparation for the Fourth of July holiday, flags have been placed on homes, vehicles and local businesses throughout Arlington.
And the abundance of flags isn’t the only sign of the Independence Day holiday. There are also the fireworks stands now open along Lee Highway and Columbia Pike.
Photos by Jackie Friedman
An American flag that once flew over the U.S. Capitol will replace a missing flag at the American Legion post in Virginia Square.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) gifted the post at 3445 Washington Blvd with the flag after reading that its previous flag was missing and possibly stolen, as first reported by ARLnow.com.
“While on the road along Route 58 today, I read that the U.S. flag at American Legion Post 139 in Arlington had gone missing,” Kaine said on Facebook. “I asked my staff to see if we could help. I hope they enjoy this new flag which was flown over the U.S. Capitol!”
The flag was obtained through Congress’ Capitol flag program, said Joe LaPaille, Kaine’s deputy press secretary.
“After reading story, he wanted to see if there was something he could do,” LaPaille said.
The flag will be raised tomorrow with an accompanying ceremony, said Sharon Walker, the club manager at the American Legion.
“It was so generous of his office,” she said.
An American flag that was flying outside of American Legion Post 139 in Virginia Square was apparently stolen earlier this morning.
Sharon Walker, the club manager at the post at 3445 Washington Blvd, said she noticed the flag was gone when she went to check on a mural currently being painted on the side of the building. The POW flag, which flies below the American flag, was lying on the ground and the rope that held the American flag was torn she said.
She first thought that someone had saw it on the ground and picked it up, but that didn’t quite add up, she said.
“If someone had picked it up, they’d also pick up the POW flag,” Walker said.
She asked neighbors if they saw a person take the flag, but so far no one has seen anything, she said. This is the first time in her 31 years at Post 139 that someone has stolen the flag.
A mural of an American flag is currently being painted on the side of the building, and artist Scott LoBaido said there is something ironic about the situation — that the flag was stolen while he was painting the huge mural.
“It just broke my heart,” he said. “It just broke my spirit.”
LoBaido is currently on a mission to paint an American flag on a VFW or American Legion post in every state. The Arlington American Legion is the last stop on his 50-state tour and this is the first time someone stole a flag while he was painting a mural.
“It’s the last one I’m doing. It’s Arlington, Virginia. It’s the Arlington National Cemetery,” he said. “That’s what it is all about.”
LoBaido filed a police report online, but he hasn’t heard back from the Arlington County Police Department. He said he hopes one of the buildings nearby has camera footage of the person stealing the flag. He checked in with the building across the street, but it did not have cameras.
“I consider it a hate crime,” he said. “It’s vandalism. It’s against the law.”
Desecrating the flag from an American Legion post doesn’t make a political statement, he said, it only hurts the service members who fight for it.
“You don’t desecrate the flag because you’re hurting the men and women who gave you the right to protest,” he said.
He urges anyone who saw something to call police. If the thief is caught, LoBaido says he knows the perfect punishment: the person should spend a week doing community service at a local VA Hospital to see the type of sacrifices military personnel make for the flag.
“The irony is here we are at Arlington. The Arlington National Cemetery is down the street,” he said.
A flag will “absolutely” fly tomorrow at the American Legion, Walker said, but she was not sure how much it would cost to replace it.