Arlington, VA

Don’t be surprised if you see helicopters and some small planes flying around the D.C. area this morning — it’s all part of a military training exercise.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) says the air defense exercise will be conducted between 11 a.m. and noon. It will involve Coast Guard helicopters and general aviation aircraft — often smaller prop planes.

“Portions of the exercise may… be visible from the ground,” NORAD said in a social media post.

Flickr pool photo by J. Sonder

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The Penrose Square Starbucks was officially dedicated as the company’s 77th “Military Family Store” yesterday (April 14).

The coffee chain’s Military Family Stores are located across the country and are placed near military bases; in this case the store is only about a mile from Joint Base Myer-Henderson and the Pentagon. The Starbucks at 2413 Columbia Pike is currently the only such store in Arlington, though there’s another one in Fairfax County near Fort Belvoir.

Starbucks Military Family Stores emphasize helping military families with connections and support by holding events and programs. They also play a larger role in the company’s commitment of hiring 5,000 veterans and military spouses annually.

A Starbucks representative tells ARLnow that three of the employees at the Penrose Square store are veterans or military spouses.

As part of the dedication, Starbucks, in partnership with Operation Gratitude, hosted a service project outside the cafe to assemble 500 care packages for military families in Arlington and at other local bases. The care package included handwritten letters of support, handmade paracord bracelets, snacks, candy, and personal care items.

“Military service members and their families across Arlington County can look at this store right here in their own community and know that they are better understood and appreciated,” said Paul Cucinotta, Chief Operating Officer of Operation Gratitude, in the press release.

Arlington police officers and firefighters were among those volunteering to assemble the care packages.

“The Arlington County Police Department has previously been the recipient of Operation Gratitude and are honored to now have the opportunity to pay it forward through service that supports veterans and military families,” ACPD spokesperson Ashley Savage told ARLnow. “By filling these care packages, we hope to show our appreciation for the men and women who bravely served our country and the sacrifices of military families.”

Photo courtesy of Starbucks

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(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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First Lady Jill Biden is in Clarendon this afternoon, visiting a call center for military members and their families.

The First Lady is visiting the offices of Military OneSource, described as “a Department of Defense resource providing 24/7 support to service members, their families, and survivors.” The visit follows an earlier event at the White House in which Biden spoke of her Joining Forces initiative to support military and veteran families, as well as caregivers and survivors.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is among the local officials expected to be in attendance as Biden tours the call center and speaks with employees. Also greeting the First Lady are Charlene Austin and Hollyanne Milley, the wives of the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, respectively.

Locals should expect a security presence in the area.

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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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(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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A veteran-owned optometry and dental practice on Columbia Pike has won a $15,000 grant from the PenFed Foundation.

Eye Smile Optometry & Dental Care near the corner of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive, next to the Harris Teeter, is owned by U.S. Air Force veteran Dr. Keith James (optometrist) and his wife Dr. Yvonelle Moreau (dentist).

The small, family-owned was awarded the grant because of its commitment “to serving its neighboring community, educating those that are under-represented and underserved, and leading as examples to future under-represented entrepreneurs,” according the PenFed Foundation website.

The foundation is a non-profit aimed at helping military members become financially stable. Its Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program is specifically earmarked for Black veteran and active duty military entrepreneurs. Two other businesses also received $15,000: one in Maryland and another in Jacksonville, Florida.

James tells ARLnow that the couple is grateful for the grant and plans to use the money for business awareness, marketing, and increased staffing. They currently have three employees, plus the two doctors.

It wasn’t always destiny for the couple’s practice to land in Arlington. James and Moreau met in New York, when they were both in school. Then, James joined the Air Force and was stationed at Joint Base Andrews for three years.

While living in Alexandria, the pair realized the region could be a great place for a family practice.

“We just thought it was a fantastic community. We really want to focus on being a family practice,” says James. “We felt like it was just the perfect setting for us to flourish.”

Yes, they acknowledge, it is certainly unique that a dentist and optometrist share a practice.

“It’s definitely atypical,” James says with a chuckle. “But with both of us practicing health care, it’s definitely a good opportunity. It’s synergistic. We’re both practicing on the head which impacts overall health.”

The practice was initially slated to open in March 2020, James says, but was delayed due to the pandemic.

“We were planning this practice for two years,” James says. “So, that was extremely nerve-racking.”

It finally opened last May, right around the time when Virginia allowed dental practices to re-open.

Over the last ten months the business has continued to grow. Overall, combined, James says they’ve treated nearly 1,500 patients.

“We try not to focus on slower days and get too excited about bigger days,” he says. “It’s definitely steady.”

The practice’s goals continue to be to provide personalized service and access to care in a section of Arlington where options can sometimes be limited.

“We saw a little space there for vision and dental that could be really central to that neighborhood and those families,” says James. “Being a part of that and increasing access to care is important to us.”

Photo courtesy of Eye Smile Optometry & Dental Care

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Morning Notes

Arts Group Pushing for New Venue — “As part of its recently adopted strategic plan, [Embracing Arlington Arts] plans to use the coming three years to build community support for a performing-arts venue that would include a black-box theater and ancillary classroom and office space. Efforts would also be made to identify a site and start raising funds.” [InsideNova]

APS Changing Student Camera Policy — “In response to challenges teachers are experiencing engaging students with cameras off, we have adapted our policy regarding the use of cameras during instruction time, based on input we have received from teachers, staff, parents, the Distance Learning Task Force, and advisory committee members. We are asking teachers to encourage students to turn on their cameras during synchronous instruction and while directly engaging with peers and staff.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Spotlight on Arlington Man’s Heroism — “A must read about Arlington’s Paris Davis, the former publisher of VA’s Metro Herald. His heroism in 1965, while commanding a Special Forces team in Vietnam, seems worthy of the Medal of Honor. But those who served with him say the Pentagon kept losing the paperwork.” [New York Times, Twitter]

Local Nonprofit’s Work Highlighted — “Mohammad Ahmed, 30, gave up working as an Uber driver in March for fear of infecting his wife, 3-year-old son and two elderly parents who live with him. When he couldn’t pay the rent or electric bill for their two-bedroom apartment in Arlington, a local charity funded mainly by taxpayer dollars stepped in.” [Washington Post]

Metro Reducing Rail Service — “Metro this week began reducing Metrorail service during peak commuting hours because of low usage while saying it will boost Metrobus service as new commuting trends emerge during the coronavirus pandemic. The transit agency referred to the changes as a way to ‘normalize’ rail service.” [Washington Post]

Local Economy Expected to Grow — “Greater Washington’s economy will rebound in 2021 as Covid-19 vaccinations become more common and the weather warms up, according to a new regional economic forecast released Friday. That means 3.5% growth in the gross regional product in 2021, a sharp rebound from the 2.9% drop in 2020. But the region will only see a full recovery in 2022, with 4.1% projected growth in the local economy.” [Washington Business Journal]

Many Office Workers Will Stay Remote — “Working in D.C. will continue to look different for the greater part of this year due to the coronavirus, a new study shows. Employers expect less than a third of their employees to physically be in the office in the first quarter of this year, but by the fall, they expect 75% of their staff to be back, according to a study.” [NBC 4, Washingtonian]

Flickr pool photo by GM and MB

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Morning Notes

Dorsey’s Bankruptcy Case Dismissed — “Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey, whose ethical and financial difficulties have tangled him in a web of false statements over the past year, fraudulently misrepresented his assets while filing for bankruptcy, a federal court ruled Friday… It was ‘an act of overt misrepresentation,’ [bankruptcy trustee] Thomas P. Gorman told the court at a hearing on Thursday, and ‘misconduct . . . so over the line’ that punishment was warranted.” [Washington Post]

Holiday Shopping Safety Tips — “ACPD wants you to have a happy and safe holiday season. While many are choosing to shop online this year, those shopping in-store are encouraged to be mindful of these safety tips.” [Twitter]

Event for Military Families Today — “An annual Winter Wonderland for Military Families hosted by a former NFL player and his wife will look very different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Derrick Dockery and his wife Emma will hold a drive-thru version of the event that provides toys and holiday cheer to military kids and families on Dec. 7 at a parking lot in Arlington, Virginia through their nonprofit, Yellow Ribbons United.” [Radio.com]

Santa Visit Still on This Weekend — “Santa Claus has paid a visit to the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department every year for over a century and he’s not going let the coronavirus pandemic force him to break that streak. In the interest of public safety, the jolly old elf will be meeting children outside this year in the parking lot of Cherrydale Baptist Church, which is located at 3910 Lorcom Lane.” [Patch]

More on CaBi Station at DCA — “Arlington County, Virginia, has installed a Capital Bikeshare station at Reagan National Airport, making it the first major metropolitan airport in the U.S. with a dock-based shared bike program. It is the 99th Capital Bikeshare dock installed in Arlington County.” [WTOP]

Gunston Coordinator Honored — “Shantha Smith, an education coordinator at Gunston Middle School, has been named a recipient of the 2020 Mary Peake Award for Excellence in Education by the state government. Awards were presented Dec. 3 in Richmond, and were named after a pioneering African-American educator.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Development Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved JBG Smith’s plan to develop Crystal Gateway, a nine-story office building with ground-floor retail,  at 101 12th Street S. in Crystal City. Community benefits associated with the project include the developer conveying 54,500 sq. ft. of land for Gateway Park, which will connect Long Bridge Park to Crystal City.” [Arlington County]

Teacher Groups Banding Together — “Representatives from teacher associations in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Arlington and Manassas Park will host a news conference Monday urging a return to virtual-only learning. In a statement Sunday evening, the Fairfax Education Association said it ‘stands with our colleagues from the Northern Virginia region to ask the Governor to return the Commonwealth to a full Phase II of the reopening plan and to recommend that our schools return to a fully virtual method of instruction.'” [InsideNova]

Feedback Sought for Police Chief Search — “The County Manager has launched a search for a new leader of the Arlington County Police Department. During the first phase of the search, the County is interested in hearing from the community. ‘We value the perspective of every resident and business,’ said County Manager Mark Schwartz… You can offer feedback through December 11.” [Arlington County]

Joint Chiefs Chair’s Wife Saves the Day — “When a bystander collapsed at the Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, a nurse was nearby and rushed to his aid. She happened to be the wife of the nation’s top military officer, Gen. Mark Milley.” [NBC News]

‘Click It or Ticket’ Starts Today — ” The Thanksgiving celebration is traditionally one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. As the holiday approaches, the Arlington County Police Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on a high visibility Click It or Ticket campaign.” [Arlington County]

State Sen. Pushing Pot Legalization — “We’re continuing to build a bipartisan coalition to #legalize responsible adult use of #marijuana in Virginia. I am working hard to ensure that ending the war on drugs is a top priority.” [@AdamEbbin/Twitter, Virginia Mercury]

N. Va. Delivered State for Biden — “Updated counts from the Virginia Department of Elections show that President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, defeated Trump by over 520,000 votes in Northern Virginia, defined as the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park… Across the rest of Virginia, Trump, a Republican, defeated Biden by about 70,000 votes, winning 50.2% to Biden’s 47.9%.” [InsideNova]

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Update at 11:15 on 9/25 — The flyover has been postponed due to weather, according to the event’s livestream. The flyover is being rescheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday, according to the event’s Facebook page.

Well, we tried, but we never got the weather visibility we needed for the #ww2flyover so today’s flight is off. The…

Posted by Arsenal of Democracy Flyover on Friday, September 25, 2020

Earlier: This coming Friday, the sound of freedom will roar over the Potomac River, as the skies are filled with dozens of vintage World War II aircraft.

The Arsenal of Democracy Flyover is scheduled to happen around 11:30 a.m. this Friday, Sept. 25. The aircraft will fly down the Potomac from the north, over the Key, Roosevelt and Memorial bridges, and down the National Mall.

“Approximately 70 World War II aircraft will take to the skies over Washington D.C.,” the event’s website says. “These historically sequenced warbird formations will fly over the Washington Mall in two minute intervals. The formations will represent the War’s major battles concluding with a missing man formation.”

“The first formation is estimated to be over the Lincoln Memorial
 at 11:30 a.m.,” the website says. “The Arsenal of Democracy aircraft will proceed to a holding point about 10 miles west of Leesburg where they will begin the flight down the Potomac River towards D.C. As they approach the Lincoln Memorial, they will turn East and proceed down Independence Avenue. At the completion of the flyover of the WWII Memorial, the aircraft will turn south and begin their flight down the Potomac River and back to their original airports.”

This year’s flyover commemorates the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (V-E) Day, on May 8, 1945. A similar flyover took place in 2015, in honor of the 70th anniversary.

Aircraft participating in this year’s flyover include P-40 Warhawks, F4U Corsairs, P-51 Mustangs, B-25 Mitchells, B-29 Superfortresses and C-47 Skytrains.

We're in the home stretch for the #WW2Flyover! Planes will start arriving in the DC area next week, and you'll start…

Posted by Arsenal of Democracy Flyover on Saturday, September 19, 2020

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