This weekend, volunteers are expected to adorn the graves of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery with thousands of flowers for Memorial Day.
The Memorial Day Flowers Foundation says it is donating 220,000 blooms for the annual event at the cemetery, and expects 1,200 volunteers will be on-site from around 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to help place the flowers.
“Our primary goal for 2019 is to decorate all 300,000 headstones and niches at Arlington,” the foundation wrote on its website.
The foundation began decorating back in 2012, after part-Ecuadorean founder Ramiro Peñaherrera rustled up donations from Ecuador’s major rose growers for his and other family members buried at the cemetery.
Today, the flowers are donated from growers across the U.S., as well as Ecuador and Colombia, and the event is sponsored by several companies, including FedEx, Cisco, and TD Bank.
A spokeswoman for the foundation told ARLnow that family members interested in a flower for a loved one’s grave at the cemetery can request one by contacting the foundation at [email protected] and a volunteer will send a photo of the flower once it’s placed at the gravestone.
Yesterday, the Arlington National Cemetery also hosted its annual “Flags-In” tradition of placing American flags at the gravestones — despite the storm that felled trees and pelted rain and hail down in the area.
The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as the The Old Guard, returned later that day to reset the flags after the storm passed.
Soldier from @USArmyOldGuard takes a knee during a thunderstorm while participating in Flags-In at Arlington National Cemetery. For 55+ years, soldiers from The Old Guard have honored our nation’s fallen by placing U.S. flags at gravesites. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser) pic.twitter.com/0NeAAXZF2g
— Arlington National Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) May 24, 2019
President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended the ceremony yesterday where 250,000 flags were placed at gravestones.
County leaders have now given the green light to plans to redevelop the American Legion post in Virginia Square into an affordable housing complex, a project widely hailed as an innovative effort to provide reasonably priced homes to veterans.
The County Board voted unanimously Saturday (Feb. 23) to approve plans from the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to replace the Legion’s current home with a new seven-story structure. The building will have room for 160 apartments — half will be set aside specifically for veterans, and all of them are guaranteed to be affordable to people of more modest means for the next 75 years.
The development, located at 3445 Washington Blvd, will also include 8,000 square feet on its ground floor for American Legion Post 139 to stay on the property. The Legion has owned the roughly 1.3-acre property since the 1930s, but opted to sell it to APAH in 2016 after the nonprofit sketched out plans for a new complex decided to helping local veterans.
“Unfortunately, the high cost of housing has put Arlington out of reach for many,” APAH Board of Directors member Rich Jordan wrote in a statement. “But we are excited that this project, the first collaboration of its kind, will welcome more veterans home to our community.”
The building will include a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, all at varying levels of affordability. Most will be designed to be affordable to people making 60 percent or 80 percent of the area median income — that works out to a yearly annual salary of $49,260 and $65,680, respectively.
However, some will be set aside for people making 30 percent of the area median income, a level of affordability that projects around Arlington only rarely achieve. Someone would have to make around $30,000 a year to qualify for the homes.
“We are adding much-needed affordable units to our inventory, and many of them are large enough for families,” County Board Chair Christian Dorsey wrote in a statement.
The project will also include an underground parking garage for residents, with a total of 96 spaces. Of those, 20 would be set aside to serve the Legion post specifically.
That represents a smaller number of parking spaces that the county’s zoning laws would typically allow at a development of this size. But county officials opted to sign off on the plans anyway, reasoning that many people living at the building will likely rely on the area’s Metro station and bevy of available bus stops to get around.
Even still, parking was a key concern for some neighbors. Some local leaders worry that the building’s larger apartments will attract families, who will bring cars and take up street parking in the neighborhoods adjoining the development.
The Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association and Lyon Village Citizens’ Association both floated the idea of tweaking zoned parking limits in the area — the streets surrounding the development, like N. Kansas Street and 12th Road N., are currently off-limits to people without permits from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Some neighbors proposed a 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. limit instead, but county officials weren’t inclined to grant that request.
In a staff report, the county noted that it’s still in the middle of a lengthy review of the residential parking permit program, with a moratorium on most changes to parking zones while that review moves forward.
That’s now set to wrap up sometime early next year, and county staff told the Planning Commission that they’re hesitant to make any zoned parking changes in the area until then — the County Board did, however, roll back some contentious restrictions in the Forest Glen and Arlington Mill neighborhoods earlier this year.
“In the future, if parking increases along 12th Road N. by non-Zone 6 permit holders, the hours of the RPP restriction could be evaluated based on the program’s guidelines at that time,” staff wrote in the report.
APAH also plans to construct a new section of N. Kansas Street running north-to-south between 13th Street N. and Washington Blvd, a move that staff hope will break up the area’s “superblock” feel. The new road will include some dedicated space for pedestrians and cyclists, and the developer is also planning to widen Washington Blvd near the project.
Eventually, the county also hopes to see 12th Road N. extended to provide an “east-west” connection across the property as well, though that will likely be finished only once the adjacent YMCA redevelops that property to allow for a new recreational facility and some new apartments on the site. A developer is also hoping to add 255 new apartments near the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road in the coming years.
APAH expects to fund the bulk of the $78.4 million project with federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit cash, though the nonprofit will also work to raise $3 million in private financing.
The Board also approved a $5.79 million loan for the project Saturday from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund, a key tool designed to spur affordable development in Arlington. APAH expects to ask for another $5.375 million loan from the fund next year.
Another Heat Advisory Today — “Heat Advisory again for… Tuesday from noon to 8 p.m. due to the continuous heat. Remember to stay hydrated, limit strenuous outdoor activities, and wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.” [Twitter]
New School Board Chair — At its meeting last night, the Arlington School Board elected Reid Goldstein as chair and Tannia Talento as vice chair for the 2018-2019. [Twitter]
State Department Employee Guilty of Child Porn Production — An Alexandria man who worked for the U.S. State Department in Arlington has pleaded guilty to “producing child pornography, in part by using his work-issued cellphone.” Skydance MacMahon “worked with a woman in Canada to shoot explicit photos and videos of five children inside her home, federal prosecutors say.” [NBC Washington]
Vets Hiking to Arlington National Cemetery — Despite blistering heat, two veterans are hiking 150 miles from the gravesite of legendary Marine Chesty Puller, in Middlesex County, Virginia, to the gravesite of decorated World War II soldier Audie Murphy at Arlington National Cemetery. [WUSA 9]
Arlington Remembers World War I — “Veterans of six U.S. military conflicts were on hand June 28 as the Arlington Historical Society paid homage to county residents who fought, and died, in what was termed – ultimately incorrectly – the war to end all wars.” [InsideNova]
Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart spoke at an event in Clarendon Monday afternoon.
The actor and comedian, who advocates for veterans issues and emceed a USO event in Crystal City two years ago, was in the neighborhood for the launch of the TAPS Institute for Hope and Healing.
TAPS — the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which supports families of fallen service members — is based at 3033 Wilson Blvd in Clarendon.
Stewart offered “beautiful words” about TAPS, its mission and its new program, said one attendee.
Jon Stewart provides opening remarks at launch of TAPS Institute for Hope and Healing.#TAPSHope #grief #militaryfamilies pic.twitter.com/U7lBzzYlBw
— TAPS (@TAPSorg) March 5, 2018
Outside of the event, celebrity photographer Mark Wilkins snapped a photo of Stewart tying his shoe while walking around Clarendon.
SPOTTED – #JonStewart tying his shoe in Clarendon this afternoon #TheDailyShow #TAPS @TAPSorg @tkradio @emilyaheil @hunterschwarz @babesandballers pic.twitter.com/Bt3MP1G7d2
— Marky Mark (@DCCelebrity) March 5, 2018
Earlier in the day Stewart spoke at a press conference on Capitol Hill, blasting a proposed policy change that would make it harder for 9/11 first responders to get medical treatment under the World Trade Center Health Program.
Arlington County government will close on Friday, November 10 to observe the Veterans Day holiday.
County courts, libraries, community centers, public schools and other government offices and facilities will be closed on Friday also.
Libraries and community centers will be open on Saturday, November 11 on a normal Saturday schedule, while trash and recycling services will continue to operate on a normal schedule on both days.
Parking meters in the county will not be enforced on Friday, but will be on Saturday.
And anyone looking to catch an ART bus over the long weekend will encounter limited service. The 41, 42, 43, 45, 51, 55, 77 and 87 routes will operate on Saturday schedules on both days, while all other ART routes will not operate. The STAR call center will be closed on both days.
Flickr pool photo via thekidfromcumlin
Homes for Our Troops (HFOT), a national non-profit organization dedicated to serving the nation’s most severely injured veterans, had selected local home builder, Arlington Construction Management as its Building Partner to coordinate the construction of a specially adapted home for Sergeant Marcus Dandrea in Haymarket, Virginia.
While serving his country in Afghanistan, Sergeant Marcus Dandrea sustained severe injuries including amputations of both legs above the knee. Sergeant Marcus Dandrea now lives in his new home in Haymarket, Virginia with his children. The specially adapted home will help this hero regain some of the freedom and independence he lost due to his injuries. The home will be provided mortgage-free, allowing him to focus on his recovery and rebuilding his life.
As HFOT’s building partner, Arlington Construction Management has served as the General Contractor for the project and was in charge of permitting. In conjunction with Homes for Our Troops, the company reached out to their best suppliers and subcontractors, enlisting them to donate their materials and labor for the project. The home is wheelchair accessible and features over 40 state-of-the-art adaptations including a roll-in shower, pull-down cabinets and a roll-under sink in the kitchen. The new home was delivered to Sergeant Dandrea on July 9, 2016, the 217th home delivered by HFOT.
“We are honored to help inspire the building community to come together and help give back to Sergeant Marcus Dandrea, who has sacrificed so much for us,” says Chad Hackmann, owner of Arlington Construction Management.
Chad Hackmann, owner of Arlington Construction Management, has been helping folks build and remodel their homes with a transparent approach to the process in Arlington and throughout the surrounding metro area for over 10 years constantly striving to provide a better way to build and remodel.
Homes for Our Troops is a national non-profit 501(c) 3 organization based in Taunton, Mass. founded in 2004. Its mission is to build specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans across the nation to enable them to rebuild their lives. Since 2004, HFOT has built over 180 homes for service members who have been severely injured in combat operations since September 11, 2001. All homes are built mortgage-free to the veteran through the generous support of individuals, foundations, and corporate contributors. Homes for Our Troops has received a four star rating from Charity Navigator.
More about this project: http://www.hfotusa.org/
More about Arlington Construction Management: http://www.arlingtonconstructionmanagement.com/
Arlington resident and 86-year-old World War II veteran Rudy Panaglima delivered a heartfelt speech on Capitol Hill Thursday morning, thanking lawmakers for a new immigration that allow Filipino veterans to be reunited with their families.
Panaglima was just 13 years old when he joined a Philippine guerrilla unit that secretly worked with the United States during World War II. Eventually, he became a member of the United States Army in the Philippines.
Filipino veterans who served for the United States during World War II received citizenship in appreciation for their service. However, many of their children were not able to.
Panaglima and his 83 year old wife Pura, have been waiting since 1995 for their two sons to come to the United States.
“We need our sons to take care of us because of our age,” said Panaglima.
Other speakers included Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D), Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono (D), Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (D) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Chief of Staff Juliet Choi.
“For too many years, Filipino veterans who fought valiantly alongside the United States in World War II – including many who call Virginia home – have been waiting for the promise of reunification with their families to be fulfilled,” Kaine said. “I’m so pleased that implementation of the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program has finally begun and that families like Rudy and Pura Panaglima of Arlington will soon be reunited with their sons who can provide them with much-needed care.”
Panaglima and his wife Pura have been living in the United States for over 21 years. Throughout the years, they have moved all around the D.C. area. However, now they currently reside along Lee Highway.
The Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) Program, which officially took effect Wednesday, allows Filipino veterans or their spouses, whose service has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense, to apply to bring their children to the United States. The policy also allows the families to be together in the United States while the applications are processed.
“In a few months, my two sons will be with us in America because of this program. On behalf of the Panaglima family I would like to convey our gratitude,” said Panaglima.
Officials report Arlington County has “achieved functional zero” one year after pledging to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
“This is a tremendous milestone for our community,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “Committing to end veteran homelessness in 2015 and chronic homelessness in 2016 was a lot to bite off. But if any community could do it, we were confident it would be us. We had the will, the resources and the people to make it happen.”
According to a press release, Arlington was one of 74 communities across the United States that formally committed to ending veteran homelessness last year. During that time, the county moved 20 homeless veterans into permanent, stable housing from the streets and shelters, reaching the functional zero status.
By definition, functional zero homelessness is when a community, at any point in time, does not have more people experiencing homelessness than it can house in an average month.
Last April, officials reported the county’s homeless population was down 18 percent. The county also made moves to provide temporary housing solutions by opening a new year-round homeless shelter in Courthouse in early October.
These combined efforts are part of the county’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. It outlines strategies to address the issue, including priorities like increasing affordable housing and providing services so households can maintain their housing.
David Leibson — who is co-chair of the 10 Year Plan’s Executive Committee with Melissa Bondi — described the functional zero for veteran homelessness achievement a “true community effort.”
“The level of cooperation and collaboration among County agencies, non-profits and others who have a stake in ending homelessness in Arlington has matured tremendously over the past half-dozen years or so,” Leibson said in a statement.
As Garvey mentioned, the county’s next goal is to end chronic homelessness by the end of this year as part of another national campaign called Zero: 2016. This campaign also strives to reach functional zero for individuals who have experienced homelessness for one year or more, have been homeless at least four times in the last year, or are homeless and have a disability.
In her statement, Bondi said she believes the County’s efforts to reach annual goals like these are working.
“In the last five years we’ve reduced the number of people in shelters or on the streets by more than half,” she said. “That’s the result of a lot of hard work from service providers, a legion of volunteers and great community support along with federal, state and county funding. We knew going in that getting to zero was going to be a challenge, but we weren’t going to back down from it.”
File photo by Chris Rief
For much of this summer, combat-injured Marine veteran and double-amputee Toran Gaal has been on a cross-country cycling trip to Arlington.
On June 1, Gaal set off from San Diego on his “Ride Across America,” an almost 4,000 mile trek which he will complete entirely on a hand-cycle.
Gaal embarked on the journey to raise money and awareness for the Semper Fi Fund, the charity that helped him recover after he was severely injured in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2011. Following the explosion, Gaal was comatose for two months and lost both legs and part of his hip.
“[The Semper Fi Fund] is doing so much good for every branch,” said Gaal. “I wanted to pay it forward to the next generation.”
Gaal will have been on the road for 65 days by the time he’s expected to arrive in Arlington this Sunday, Aug. 2. He will have stopped in close to 50 other towns and cities along the way. At the end of his ride, he will place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
Brian Riley, fellow combat-injured Marine veteran, is accompanying Gaal on the road in a support vehicle.
Photo via www.hisshoesmove.com
Janitors to Rally with Candidates in Ballston — About 150 part-time janitors will rally in Ballston this afternoon for a new union contract. The rally is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. in front of the National Science Foundation at 4201 Wilson Blvd. Democratic County Board candidates Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey are expected to attend the rally to lend their support, according to a press release from the 32BJ SEIU union.
Arlington Man Killed in D.C. Pedestrian Crash — An Arlington man, 31-year-old George Mina, has died several days after being struck by a car on Wisconsin Avenue NW in D.C. Mina, a pediatric phlebotomist, was struck by the driver of a Jaguar while crossing Wisconsin at Veazy Street NW on June 10. A rally for pedestrian safety was held in the area last night, with advocates calling for D.C. to implement pedestrian safety measures currently in use in Arlington. [NBC Washington]
No Opponent for Commonwealth’s Attorney — A potential independent candidate for Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney came up just a couple of verified petition signatures short of the 140 he needed to qualify for the ballot. Criminal defense attorney Frank Webb said he will drop his bid to get on the ballot. Incumbent Democrat Theo Stamos is now running unopposed. [InsideNova]
WW2 Vets Boogie at DCA — Video posted on YouTube shows a group of World War II veterans, in a Reagan National Airport terminal last month awaiting their honor flight back to Kentucky, dancing to a live rendition of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
An poker run and rooftop benefit concert this weekend is aiming to help homeless veterans and prevent veteran suicide.
The Hope for our Veterans benefit starts 7 a.m. at the Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. There, a group of veterans will do 22 pushups to signify the fact that, statistically, 22 veterans commit suicide each day.
The poker run portion of the charity event starts at 10 a.m. at the Iwo Jima memorial. During the poker run, teams drive or ride to five locations across Northern Virginia to draw one poker card.
The five locations are:
- Crystal City Sports Pub in Crystal City
- Walkers Grille in Springfield
- Heritage Brewing Co in Manassas
- Gypsy Soul in Falls Church
- Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill in Courthouse
Poker cards may also be purchased for $20 each for those who don’t want to visit all the stops. All of the event’s proceeds go toward benefitting charities Operation Renewed Hope Foundation and Renovating Hope.
Organizers are hoping to attract Rolling Thunder participants — poker runs are popular among motorcyclists — but the event is open to bikers and non-bikers alike.
At 6 p.m., teams will convene on the Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill to present their poker hands. The best poker hand wins a 10-day trip to the Ala Moana Hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii.
The concert portion of the event also begins at 10 a.m. at the Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill, and is hosted by former Yahoo! and TV Guide Channel personality Nikki Boyer. Artists such as McKayla Reece, Tommy Fields and Mars Rodeo will play until 1:30 a.m.
The concert is free before 2 p.m., after which tickets cost $25.