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.
A man holding a Confederate flag was spotted marching down Lee Highway near East Falls Church this morning.
The above photo was taken near N. Sycamore Street around 8:00 a.m. A reader said the man was walking very deliberately down the street, with a Confederate flag that had the Gadsden flag’s “Don’t Tread On Me” snake in the middle.
“[He was] not yelling anything but [you] could tell he was walking with pride in his step,” said the reader.
At least one concerned resident called police to report the display, which is highly unusual for Arlington, but according to scanner traffic police determined that the man was exercising his First Amendment rights and not violating the law.
Photo courtesy @WanyeVVest
Artist Scott LoBaido has chosen the post at 3445 Washington Blvd for the next mural on his Fifty State Tour, in which he aims to paint a flag mural on either a VFW or American Legion building in all fifty states.
LoBaido has been painting renditions of the stars and stripes for some time. According to the artist’s website, in 2006 he completed a similar mural-painting tour in which he drove across the United States and painted a flag on one rooftop in each state, so that they could be seen from airplanes by departing and returning soldiers.
LoBaido has received national attention for his art, including being named ABC News’ Person of the Week for his 2006 tour.
Post 139 Commander Bob Romano said that when he received the pitch for the flag mural last Thursday, he jumped at the chance.
“It was just too good to pass up,” said Romano.
Although the post has had to spend some money to rent a lift for the artist, the mural itself comes free of charge. LoBaido is scheduled to start work on Sunday, Aug. 16 and finish on Wednesday, Aug. 19.
According to Romano, a dedication ceremony is being planned for Thursday, Aug. 20 at noon. Romano said it will be primarily an American Legion event, and hopes that some Legion Riders will make an appearance.
“I think this is a good thing for the post,” said Romano. “When I first heard about it, I thought, ‘This has to happen.'”
Photo courtesy Bob Romano
Flags in Arlington are flying at half-staff today in honor of Alexandria paramedic Joshua Weissman.
Weissman died last week after falling 20-30 feet from I-395 while responding to a vehicle fire near Shirlington. Yesterday Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell authorized flags in Alexandria and Arlington to fly at half-staff in Weissman’s memory.
Family, friends, fellow firefighters and the public are mourning Weissman’s death at funeral services in Alexandria this afternoon. Some 2,000 people and 200 fire vehicles are expected to take part in the funeral procession and services, which have shut down several busy streets around the city and prompted an early dismissal from Alexandria schools.
A total of 27 decorative flags were burned overnight on a quiet couple of blocks between Quantico Street and Sycamore Street, near Bishop O’Connell High School and Tuckahoe Elementary, according to fire department spokesman Lt. Gregg Karl. Neighbors say the plastic flags were recently placed in yards by the Boy Scouts, an annual Flag Day tradition.
Investigators believe whoever burned the flags did so just before 5:30 a.m. The fires caused the plastic flags to melt onto plants, yards and walkways. No word on a motive, but one neighbor on 27th Street theorized that the vandal or vandals were trying to send a message.
“There are some people who object to the flags for political reasons,” she said. “There are ways to protest if you don’t believe in something, but destructive protests like this do not accomplish goals. It does not accomplish anything.”
The resident acknowledged, however, that the flag burnings could also be a random act of “pure vandalism,” adding that said she could not remember anything like this happening in the 11 years she has lived in the neighborhood.
“It’s dangerous,” she said. “It could have caused a real fire.”
Anyone with information about the burnings is asked to call Deputy Fire Marshal Paul Frank at 703-228-4644. More photos, after the jump.
Hat tip to Colleen Creighton
As the older version of today’s American Flag waived proudly in the winter air, a small white board set inside a front window of the house it hangs on.
On the board in green marker was written “Today’s Flag: Great Star Flag 1836,” as if to give a brief history lesson on what flag is on display next to the door. No one was home early Monday afternoon to answer questions about the flag, or why it hangs there with its brief description.
Other flags have been known to hang in the same spot, all with their descriptions spelled out on the white board.
The outside walls of the house are pained a mixture of blue and white, and the door a fiery red, clearly matching the flag that adorns the façade. While the flag had the same red and white stripes we’re used to seeing on the flag today, the stars in the field of blue were all arranged into a larger star pattern.
Happy Flag Day — Today is Flag Day. The holiday commemorates the adoption of the United States flag by the Second Continental Congress in 1777. June 14th also happens to be the birthday of the U.S. Army. Today the Army turns the ripe old age of 235.
Post Writes Up EFC Development Battle — The Washington Post is running a story this morning about the increasingly ugly battle between the East Falls Church Planning Task Force and vocal anti-development residents. The task force and their pro-development allies say that development is inevitable given that East Falls Church will be the transfer station to the new Silver Line. Anti-development forces say they don’t want a nine-story “high-rise” among their “bucolic” bastion of single-family homes. The County Board will discuss the task force’s development plan on Tuesday.
Hope for the Best — Del. Patrick Hope, a member of the Arlington delegation to the Virginia General Assembly, has been named legislator of the year by the Virginia Transit Association. The first-term delegate says he was “honored” to receive the award, which recognizes his work on a transit-related bill. More from the Sun Gazette.
They Live (and Cheer) Among Us — Were you watching the U.S.-England World Cup match at Summers Restaurant in Courthouse over the weekend? Fox News says you might have been rubbing elbows with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). Nunes frequents Summers, which, according to Fox News, “is known as one of the best soccer pubs in the country.” For other good soccer venues around Arlington, see our World Cup guide.
Rob Yonick is sick and tired of people stealing his Canadian flag from outside his Yorktown home. He doesn’t know who’s doing it, he doesn’t know why they’re doing it, but he wants it to stop.
Despite the thefts, Yonick says l’Unifolié will still be proudly displayed for all to see this weekend, in time for the epic U.S.-Canada Olympic hockey matchup on Sunday.
“I’m going to put a flag in the window,” he said defiantly, adding that “there’s no doubt” Canada, backed by Pittsburgh Penguins star and Nova Scotia native Sidney Crosby, will defeat the American team.
Yonick, a stout Canadian Embassy employee, first had his beloved Maple Leaf stolen this past Columbus Day. He chalked it up to misplaced patriotic fervor.
Undeterred, Yonick bought two new flags — a Canadian flag and an American flag — and bolted each flag to a column outside his stately N. Columbus St. house.
Earlier this week, the American flag disappeared, leaving only a bare, mangled flagpole. Then at some point on Thursday, the Canadian flag vanished, flagpole and all, leaving Yonick flummoxed.
“I don’t know if it’s kids playing a prank, or someone who doesn’t like Canada,” he said. After writing about it on Facebook, a friend suggested the Olympics might have something to do with it, a theory Yonick says is possible but unlikely.
Police — who Yonick called out of concern that a neighborhood trend might be developing (a neighbor’s car got paintballed a little while back) — had a different hypothesis. They determined that the American flag was improperly displayed. It was placed on the same level as the Canadian flag and to the left. It should have been flown to the right, or above the Canadian flag, they explained. Perhaps that was why someone thought to rip each flag down, officers mused.
Yonick wasn’t sure about that. He speculated that the perp was likely just “a drunk guy” who was, at that very moment, “running around somewhere with the Canadian flag.”
Even though his benevolent Canadian demeanor was being tested, Yonick said the thefts would not result in an international incident. Instead of exerting diplomatic pressure, he’s now plotting ways to outsmart the thieves.
“They won’t beat me,” he said. “The flags will go back up, bolted down and stronger than before.”
And if that doesn’t work, Yonick said, security cameras may come next.