Memorial Day Weekend may still look a bit different this year, but it shouldn’t keep us from remembering what the day is really all about: honoring the brave men and women who gave their lives to protect ours. Their sacrifices pave the way for our continued freedoms as American citizens. In addition to honoring our fallen, Memorial Day Weekend typically signifies the start of the summer season.
Below are some ways to commemorate the weekend in a safe and responsible way.
Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Day Ceremony
One of the most poignant reminders of what Memorial Day represents are the annual ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. An unforgettable experience for any visitor upon first walking in is being amazed by the enormity of the thousands of graves, all decorated with an American flag. Every year, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) has honored America's fallen heroes by placing American flags at gravesites for service members buried at both Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery just prior to the Memorial Day weekend. This tradition, known as "Flags In," has been conducted annually for over six decades. Visitors can also attend the wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and go to the Memorial Day Remembrance Concert held at the Memorial Amphitheater.
Ride of the Patriots & Rolling to Remember
Ready to ride? Start your engine and saddle up for the biggest joyride of the year! The Ride of the Patriots® has become a highly anticipated annual event honoring those in uniform, who serve every day and put their lives at risk to protect in times of crisis. Not only is this event in remembrance of men and women in the military, but also for the first responders who have made sacrifices during their service. The ride begins at Patriot Harley-Davidson in the City of Fairfax and continues into Washington, DC over the Memorial Bridge. It will feature up to 225 riders both on Saturday and Sunday making the journey down GW Parkway to connect with the annual Rolling to Remember motorcycle rally. Not a motorcycle rider? You'll still want to find a good spot to watch the riders pass by because it's quite a sight to be seen.
Falls Church Memorial Day Ceremony
The cornerstone of every past, present, and future Falls Church Memorial Day event is the Memorial Day Ceremony, where the community comes together to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. The Memorial Day Ceremony includes remarks and performances by the Falls Church Veterans Council, the Falls Church Concert Band, and more. Last year's event was remote, however, this year will be available for both live and in-person attendance at the Veterans' Memorial. Pre-registration is required and all attendees will be asked to wear a mask. For those unable to join in-person, Falls Church Community Television (FCCTV) will record the ceremony.
Embark on a Memorial Day Scavenger Hunt
Put your thinking caps on! As part of the City of Falls Church's modified Memorial Day activities, the Recreation and Parks' Department is hosting another Scavenger Hunt around parks and historical areas throughout "The Little City." Beginning Saturday, May 22 through Tuesday, June 1, 13 signs will be hidden in different City of Falls Church parks. To find the parks, download and print the Memorial Day Scavenger Hunt Form (you can also pick one up at the Community Center). Visit those parks and find the hidden signs, which will show a specific Military Rank (i.e. General, Lieutenant). If you find all the signs and their corresponding rank, your team of sleuths will win a Memorial Day Scavenger Hunt tee shirt!
Civil War History
Learn the stories about Fairfax County’s role in the Civil War by digging into the resources offered by Civil War Trails, which is the largest open-air museum in the world. With hundreds of interpreted sites throughout the region – including dozens in Fairfax County – you’ll always have a new place to explore. View their map guides online or explore their interactive map.
Army Soundbites & Museum Exhibits
The National Museum of the United States Army recently announced it will re-open to the public on June 14. Take time this Memorial Day to make plans to visit this state-of-the-art facility that tells the complete story of the 245-year history of America's oldest and largest military branch. To help you get excited, take a peek at these 10 amazing experiences you can find at the Museum. Also, on May 27th, join the Army Historical Foundation for a virtual livestream about the struggle of keeping the Continental Army fed and nourished during the Revolutionary War. Participants will hear from George Washington's personal physician, Dr. James Craik (in the form of George Washington's Mount Vernon's Manager of Character Interpretation, Thomas Plott), who will also share some "popular" recipes of soldiers during war. Tune in here.
Attend ViVa! Vienna!
A family and community-oriented celebration of Memorial Day and the greater Vienna Community spirit returns this year! Spanning the entirety of Memorial Day weekend (May 29-31), ViVa! Vienna! brings carnival rides, food, crafts, vendors, and entertainment for all ages. Take a whirl on the Ferris Wheel and grab the oh-so-delicious carnival food we've all been desperately missing this past year.
Attend the Virtual National Memorial Day Concert
Although the National Memorial Day Concert will not be happening on the West Lawn of The Capitol, the show will go on! On May 30th from 8-9PM, the concert will showcase new performances and tributes filmed around the country mixed with tributes from past concerts. Grill some hot dogs, sit back, and enjoy the star-studded performances.
What are some ways you will spend this unique Memorial Day? At home with family? A peaceful neighborhood walk? Attending some virtual events? Heading out to support your local establishments? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on social media at #FXVA and @VisitFairfax. And as always, safe stay and stay healthy!